Sunday, 25 January 2015


by Robert Burns and Samuil Marshak
a song by
Alexander Gradsky

I don’t know how many English speakers ever heard or read this comic seduction tale, Wha Is That At My Bower​-​Door?, but its translation, Финдлей (Findlay), is probably one of the best-known and loved poems of the Bard in the Russian-speaking world. In a much smaller world of Russian speakers, which includes myself, the iambic trimeter of the even lines is easily adapted to form humorous utterances like писец, сказал монтёр, which I find indispensable in daily life. The structure of English (Scots) version is slightly different and, in my view, does not lend itself to such use. Also, Marshak’s verse has more diversity: the fourth line of every stanza is always different! Even though I know that the name pronounced as /ˈfɪnlɪ/, I really like the boldly “wrong” Russian pronunciation /fɪnˈdleɪ/.

Robert Burns
Wha Is That At My Bower-Door
Роберт Бёрнс, перевод С.Я. Маршака
“Wha is that at my bower door?”
“O wha is it but Findlay!”
“Then gae your gate, ye’se nae be here;”
“Indeed maun I!” quo’ Findlay;

“What mak ye, sae like a thief?”
“O come and see!” quo’ Findlay;
“Before the morn ye’ll work mischief;”
“Indeed will I!” quo’ Findlay.

“Gif I rise and let you in;”
“Let me in!” quo’ Findlay;
“Ye’ll keep me waukin wi’ your din;
“Indeed will I!” quo’ Findlay.

“In my bower if ye should stay;”
“Let me stay!” quo’ Findlay;
“I fear ye’ll bide till break o’ day;”
“Indeed will I!” quo’ Findlay.

“Here this night if ye remain” —
“I’ll remain!” quo’ Findlay:
“I dread ye’ll learn the gate again;”
“Indeed will I!” quo’ Findlay.

“What may pass within this bower” —
“Let it pass!” quo’ Findlay:
“Ye maun conceal till your last hour;”
“Indeed will I!” quo’ Findlay.
— Кто там стучится в поздний час?
“Конечно, я — Финдлей!”
— Ступай домой. Все спят у нас!
“Не все!” — сказал Финдлей.

— Как ты прийти ко мне посмел?
“Посмел!” — сказал Финдлей.
— Небось наделаешь ты дел...
“Могу!” - сказал Финдлей.

— Тебе калитку отвори...
“А ну!” — сказал Финдлей.
— Ты спать не дашь мне до зари!
“Не дам!” — сказал Финдлей.

— Попробуй в дом тебя впустить...
“Впусти!” — сказал Финдлей.
— Всю ночь ты можешь прогостить.
“Всю ночь!” — сказал Финдлей.

— С тобою ночь одну побудь...
“Побудь!” — сказал Финдлей.
— Ко мне опять найдешь ты путь.
“Найду!” — сказал Финдлей.

— О том, что буду я с тобой...
“Со мной!” — сказал Финдлей.
— Молчи до крышки гробовой!
“Идёт!” — сказал Финдлей.

Финдлей is one of five songs on Burns’ lyrics written by Alexander Gradsky in early 1970s. They first appeared on a LP Размышления Шута issued by Melodiya in 1987. In contrast to the hits В полях под снегом и дождём and Наш старый дом, the rest of these songs never became a regular part of his repertoire. Today, it sounds a bit dated, but please keep in mind that Финдлей was one of the first (probably the first) prog-rock compositions ever recorded in the USSR.

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