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Кабы знала я

Language: Russian (Русский)

Кабы знала я, кабы ведала,
Не смотрела бы из окошечка
Я на молодца разудалого,
Как он ехал по нашей улице.
Набекрень заломивши мурмолку,
Как лихого коня буланого,
Звонконогого, долгогривого
Супротив окон на дыбы вздымал!

Кабы знала я, кабы ведала,
Для него бы я не рядилася,
С золотой каймой ленту алую
В косу длинную не вплетала бы,
Рано до свету не вставала бы,
За околицу не спешила бы,
В росе ноженьки не мочила бы,
На просёлок тот не глядела бы,
Не проедет ли тем просёлком он,
На руке держа пёстра сокола?

Кабы знала я, кабы ведала,
Не сидела бы поздним вечером,
Пригорюнившись на завалине,
На завалине, близ колодезя,
Поджидаючи, да гадаючи,
Не придёт ли он, ненаглядный мой!
Напоить коня студеной водой!

Translation(s): ENG

List of language codes

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator] and Laura Prichard [Guest Editor]

Show a transliteration: Default | DIN | GOST

Note on Transliterations


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • ENG English (Laura Prichard) , "If only I'd known better", copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Text added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.

Last modified: 2016-10-23 12:55:27
Line count: 25
Word count: 120

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If only I'd known better

Language: English after the Russian (Русский)

If only I’d known better, if I’d [been sure]1,
I wouldn’t have looked out [my] little window
At the brazen young man,
As he rode along our street.
His murmolka tilted to the side
On his dashing dun steed,
Hooves ringing, long mane [waving],
And right in front of my windows, his horse reared up!

If only I’d known better, if I’d been sure,
For him, I wouldn’t have dressed up,
Wouldn’t have woven a gold-bordered scarlet ribbon
Into my long braid,
Wouldn’t have risen so early, before first light,
Wouldn’t have rushed to the edge of town,
Wouldn’t have gotten my feet soaked with dew,
Wouldn’t have watched the road, to see
Whether he would ride back this way
With a speckled falcon on his arm?

If only I’d known better, if I’d been sure,
I wouldn’t have sat up all evening,
Sitting sadly on the little knoll nearby,
On the knoll, near the well,
Watching, wondering:
Won’t he come by, my beloved,
To water his steed at the well?!

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View original text (without footnotes)

Translator's notes: Tolstoy is imitating 19th-century folk poems about unhappy love (songs of experience, not innocence). They were usually 10-line stanzas, with strong accents on the third and eighth syllables. Each line in Russian is spoken as though it were two 5-syllable lines, with a stress in the middle of each cluster: this is why Tolstoy adds a few extra syllables and combines some common words into longer constructions.

1 or "realized"

Line 1-3: разудалого is a rare adjective that denotes both good-looking (“dashing”) and bad-behaving (“cocky”); in Serbo-Croatian, “ра̏зузда̄но̄ст” denotes licentiousness or looseness.

Line 1-5: a “murmolka” is an expensive “top” hat with a flat crown made of velvet or brocade with a fur rim (fastened to the hat with loops and buttons) worn by members of the nobility and military officers in the mid-nineteenth century; it was sometimes decorated with feathers or pearls. This one is tilted to one side, or jauntily askew, i.e., on purpose.

Line 1-6: "dun", i.e., with a light gray coat and a black mane and tail.


  • Translation from Russian (Русский) to English copyright © 2016 by Laura Prichard, (re)printed on this website with kind permission. To reprint and distribute this author's work for concert programs, CD booklets, etc., you may ask the copyright-holder(s) directly or ask us; we are authorized to grant permission on their behalf. Please provide the translator's name when contacting us.


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Text added to the website: 2016-10-23.
Last modified: 2016-10-23 13:00:39
Line count: 25
Word count: 171