Posted: 28 Nov 2016 09:21 PM PST
A song from between the two World Wars, from Werich and Voskovec's Balada z hadrÅ¯ (Rag Ballad) a theatrical work drawing on the life, times and work of FranÃ§ois Villon, but inspired as much as anything by the Great Depression. My translation is free, as is my wont when working with song lyrics. I have deemphasized the medievalism. I have included modernity-specific terms. I have, in fact, turned the song into something a bit different than what it was in Czech.
Leslie Jameson, the donor who requested this, asked that I translate one poem from a language I don't know well. Granted, Czech is quite easy for me to understand in its written form. So here it is.
Hey, Royal Highness
By Jan Werich and JiÅ™Ã Voskovec
Requested by Leslie Jameson
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
(YouTube link to a cover version of this song)
So here's a topic for you, researchers and scholars
Of the academy: does it say in your books
Why it is just the poor they put in prison-collars,
When rich homes have a wealth of free white collar crooks?
If His Highness knew poor folks' pain, he'd deign
Just once to honestly explain.
Hey, Royal Highness, quit your lounging,
Don rags, come down into our slum,
Learn how we live by drudging, scrounging,
The filth you see will set you howling,
And you won't sleep till Kingdom Come.
And all you sirs of moneyed breeding
Come see us in our neighborhoods.
See what we pay for life you're leading
How misery turns men to thieving
And wolves burst hungry from the woods
You think we're nothing since we're poorer.
You don't yet fear the working class.
But one day you'll be ripped with horror
When this shout shakes your windows' glass:
Hey, fat cats, pigs and portly weasels,
You've had enough. Now pay the bill.
Yes sirs, you brought about the evil
Misery that makes wolves of people,
And that makes you our juicy kill.
Hej Pane KrÃ¡li
Bereme na potaz uÄenÃ© bakalÃ¡Å™e.
Et item doktory, et item rektory.
ProÄ jenom chudÃ¡k trhan patÅ™Ã do Å¾alÃ¡Å™e?
VÅ¾dyÅ¥ mezi bohÃ¡Äi jsou takÃ© potvory!
Kdyby nÃ¡s chudÃ¡ky lÃ©pe znal pÃ¡n krÃ¡l,
snad by nÃ¡m odpovÄ›Ä dal.
Hej, pane krÃ¡li, nebuÄ lÃnÃ½,
vem hadry a jdi mezi lid,
poznÃ¡Å¡, co je Å¾ivoÅ™it z dÅ™iny,
uvidÃÅ¡ za den tolik Å¡pÃny,
do smrti nebudeÅ¡ mÃt klid.
A vÅ¯bec velkomoÅ¾nÃ pÃ¡ni,
pÅ™ijÄte se na nÃ¡s podÃvat,
vy pÃ¡ni, kteÅ™Ã jste tÃm vinni,
Å¾e bÃda z lidÃ lotri ÄinÃ,
Å¾e vlky z lesÅ¯ Å¾ene hlad.
Myslete si, Å¾e jsme jen lÅ¯za,
Å¾e se nÃ¡s nemusÃte bÃ¡t.
Jednou vÅ¡ak popadne VÃ¡s hrÅ¯za,
aÅ¾ pod okny vÃ¡m budeme Å™vÃ¡t.
Hej, kÅ™eÄkovÃ© a baÅ™tipÃ¡ni,
je Äas, budeme ÃºÄtovat,
pÃ¡novÃ©, sami jste tÃm vinni,
Å¾e bÃda z lidÃ vlky ÄinÃ,
Å¾e nÃ¡s proti vÃ¡m Å¾ene hlad.