Translation © by Lyle Neff

Скажи, о чём в тени ветвей
Language: Russian (Русский) 
Available translation(s): ENG FIN FRE
Скажи, о чём в тени ветвей,
когда природа отдыхает,
поёт весенний соловей
и что он песней выражает?
Что тайно всем волнует кровь?
Скажи, скажи, какое слово
знакомо всем и вечно ново?
Любовь!

Скажи, о чём наедине
в раздумье девушка гадает,
что тайным трепетом во сне
ей страх и радость обещает?
Недуг тот странный назови,
в котором светлая отрада.
Чего ей ждать? Чего ей надо?
Любви!

[Когда]1 от жизненной тоски
ты, утомленный, изнываешь
и, злой печали вопреки,
хоть призрак счастья призываешь
что услаждает грудь твою?
Не те ли звуки неземные,
когда услышал ты впервые --
[Люблю?!]2

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Note (provided by Laura Prichard): This text first appears in a one-act “comedy-vaudeville” titled Trouble from a Tender Heart by Count Vladimir Alexandrovich Sollogub (1813-1882) Tchaikovsky knew this text as a young man in St. Petersburg, since he acted in a production of the play in 1860-1861. Much later, he wrote incidental music (now lost) for the same play to be produced at his sister’s estate in Kamenka (Ukraine), and his song for soprano may date from that period.

1 Tchaikovsky: "Скажи! Когда"
2 Tchaikovsky: "слова, слова любви!"

Tchaikovsky's version has different punctuation. It is below:

Скажи, о чём в тени ветвей,
Когда природа отдыхает,
Поёт весенний соловей,
И что он песней выражает?
Что тайно всем волнует кровь?
Скажи, скажи, скажи, какое слово
Знакомо всем и вечно ново?
Любовь, любовь, любовь!

Скажи, о чём наедине,
В раздумье, девушка гадает,
Что тайным трепетом во сне
Ей страх и радость обещает?
Недуг тот странный назови,
В котором светлая отрада,
Чего ей ждать, чего ей надо:
Любви! любви!

Скажи! когда от жизненной тоски
Ты утомленный изнываешь,
И злой печали вопреки
Хоть призрак счастья призываешь!
Что услаждает грудь твою?
Не те ли звуки неземные,
||:  Когда услышал ты впервые
Слова, слова любви!  :||


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Note on Transliterations

Authorship

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

Settings in other languages, adaptations, or excerpts:

  • Also set in German (Deutsch), a translation by Hans Schmidt (1854 - 1923) ; composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

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

  • ENG English (Lyle Neff) , "Tell me, in the shadow of the branches", copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FIN Finnish (Suomi) (Erkki Pullinen) , copyright © 2011, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "Dis-moi sous l'ombre des branches", copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 24
Word count: 94

Tell me, in the shadow of the branches
Language: English  after the Russian (Русский) 
Tell me, in the shadow of the branches,
when nature is resting,
what is the vernal nightingale singing about,
and what he is expressing with the song?
What secretly stirs the blood for all?
Tell me, tell me, tell me, which word
is familiar to all and is forever new?
Love, love, love!

Tell me, what in private
does a girl lost in thought wonder about,
what with furtive trembling in her sleep
promises her fear and joy?
Name that strange affliction
in which there is serene comfort,
what is it she needs to wait for?
Love! love!

Tell me! when you, weary of the yearning of life,
are languishing,
and in defiance of wicked sorrow,
it's as if you are summoning the specter of happiness!
What delights your bosom?
Is it not those unearthly sounds,
when you heard for the first time
the words, the words of love!

Note: this is a reading-translation for Tchaikovsky's version.

Authorship

  • Translation from Russian (Русский) to English copyright © 2015 by Lyle Neff, (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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Based on

 

This text was added to the website: 2015-01-10
Line count: 24
Word count: 149