March about the end of the war

To mark the Victory Day I decided to translate a song about the last days of the Second World War by Vladimir Vysotsky. Vysotsky is one of the most famous Soviet song writers who became known as “The voice of the (Soviet) epoch” in recognition of his significance.

Марш о конце войны March about the End of the War
Уже не маячат над городом аэростаты,
Замолкли сирены, готовясь победу трубить,
Но ротные все-таки выйти успеют, успеют в комбаты,
Которого всё ещё запросто могут убить.
Aerostats 1 no longer hang above the city,
Sirens fell silent preparing to trumpet the victory,
Nevertheless officers will make it in time to become kombats2,
Who can still be killed easily.
Вот уже очищают от копоти свечек иконы,
И душа и уста и молитвы творят, и стихи,
Но с красным крестом всё идут, и идут, и идут эшелоны
А вроде по сводкам потери не так велики.
And already icons3 are being cleansed from candles’ soot
And souls and mouths are praying and writing poems,
But trains with red crosses are still coming and coming.
Even though the reported losses are not that heavy.
Вот со стекол содрали кресты из полосок бумаги.
Вот и шторы - долой! Затемненье уже ни к чему.
А где-нибудь спирт раздают, раздают перед боем из фляги,
Он все выгоняет - и холод, и страх, и чуму.
Here the paper crosses have been taken down from windows4,
Down with curtains! Blackout is no longer needed.
But somewhere alcohol is being distributed from a flask before a battle,
For it expels everything: and cold, and fear and plague5.
Вот уже довоенные лампы горят вполнакала -
И из окон на пленных глазела Москва свысока…
А где-то солдатиков в сердце осколком, осколком толкало,
А где-то разведчикам надо добыть “языка”
Here the pre-war lamps are already half-lit,
And Moscow stared down at the prisoners from its windows6,
Whilst somewhere shrapnel was pushing through solders’ hearts,
Whilst somewhere scouts need to capture “a tongue”7.
  1. Also knowns as barrage balloons used in WW2 to defend against aircraft attack by damaging the aircraft on collision with the cables, or at least making the attacker’s approach more difficult. 

  2. A soviet millitary rank above officers. 

  3. An icon is generally a flat panel painting depicting Jesus Christ, Mary, saints and/or angels, which is venerated among Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and in certain Eastern Catholic Churches. 

  4. Paper crosses were stuck on windows to prevent scattering of broken glass from bombings. 

  5. Used metaphorically to mean death, see murrain

  6. Reference to a parade of 60 000 German prisoners of war in the streets of Moscow on 17th of July 1944. 

  7. Literal translation of a jargon term referring to an enemy soldier with some valuable information.