Lera Yanysheva: Lullaby For Her Blood (From Russian Romani)

Lullaby For Her Blood
By Lera Yanysheva
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Click to hear me recite the original in Romani

The wolves in leafy woods are sleeping.
Rockabye baby, day is done.
Horses are sleeping, birds are dreaming.  
So sleep you snug sweet angel son. 

Just close your eyes for bedtime baby
And oh don't cry I'm begging you.
Or else you'll wake your sleeping papa...
And then what am I going to do? 

My shining sun, God how I love you,
My blessing and my saving grace,
I'm begging you, please don't start crying
Or he will come and break my face. 

His mother will burst in with curses
"Dumb Ruska girl" she'll hiss at me    
"Why don't you do something already? 
The poor thing's bawling. Can't you see?" 

I'm asking you on bended knees now,
Dear little apple of my eye,
Just shut your mouth for mama, sweetie.
Hush little baby. Don't you cry. 

Don't make us have a loud domestic.   
I am so tired, sweet shining sun.
It's almost time to head to market.
So please, sweet dreams now, little one. 

The gadjos are asleep till morning.
The lambs and chickens rest in peace.
The young and old are off to dreamland.
No one's awake but the police.


Ratunî Gilî: the literal title is "Blood Song." In other dialects, ratuno means "Nocturnal." There seems some wordplay here. (Rat in the singular nominative means "night" when feminine, and "blood" when masculine, representing the phonologically merged reflex of two originally distinct Indic words.) In any case, I think it is to do with her son as blood-kin, as opposed to the other members of the household who are from a different Romani group. Yanysheva's Russian self-translation of this poem is titled Колыбельная "Lullaby."

Stanza 1:
Note — the assonances, multiple internal rhymes, and other phonetic echoes in this stanza. E.g. dro veš ruvá and sov, čavoró sovnakunó. It contributes to a musical mood in the opening, and almost demands to be sung.

Stanza 2:
Note — the echoes here and later, of mangav(a) "I ask, I demand, beseech" and mánge.
The last line literally reads "what am I to do with you?" in Romani. For this line I borrowed from Yanysheva's Russian version, for no other reason than that I liked how it worked in English.

Stanza 3:

This stanza is the only one where the rhyme joining lines 2 and 4 is approximate — the two lines end in different consonants. They both end in a sonorant however, and are compensated for by the perfect -ava rhyme in the same stanza.

Stanza 4:

The poem is in North Russian Romani. But the mother-in-law in this stanza is speaking a quite different dialect. Mikhail Oslon tells me that it appears to be Kishinjovari. The implication, I think, is that the speaker is from the Ruska Roma, and has married into a Kishinjovari family. She is now living her married life among a different Romani group than the one she grew up with. Cut off from the close-knit kinship network that would have served as a social safety net back home, she is all the more alone.

Sasuj javéla te košel man: it isn't entirely clear to me how to read this, whether javéla takes its full semantic force and means "come" or is just an auxiliary verb. The poet's own Russian version doesn't settle this, though it does make me feel, at the very least, that I'm not gravely defacing the poem by translating javéla as a verb of motion.

Vlaxîjka: general Russian Vlax term meaning "Rom woman from a different group." I have translated it as "Ruska girl."

Stanza 7:

Gadže: here meaning "Russian peasants." Didn't know how best to render the word, as all the options seemed unsuitable. I've left it as "gadjos."

The Original:
For reasons explained on this page, all Cyrillic Romani texts I translate are accompanied by transcription in Roman characters. 

Ратуны Гилы
Лера Янышева

Дро вэш рува́ сарэ́ сутэ́,
Бай-бай, миро́ ту гудлоро́.
Совэ́н грая́ тай чириклэ́.
Сов, чяворо́ совнакуно́!

Закэ́р якха́, миро́ бэя́то,
И на дэ го́дла, тут манга́в.
Тэ ушунэ́л тут тыро́ да́до.
Со ту́са ма́нгэ тэ кэра́в?

Ту кхам миро́, мэ тут кама́ва,
Ту бахт миро́ и камлыпэ́н.
Но на дэ го́дла тут манга́ва,
Ведь ма́нгэ муй ёв розмарэ́л.

Сасу́й явэ́ла тэ кошэ́л ман.
«Лахыйка», — ма́нгэ ёй пхэнэ́л.  
«Ну кэр же варе-со май сы́го,
Бэя́то чёрорро рове́л!»

Мэ по чянга мангав дриван тут,
Тырда́ва мэ кэ ту васта́:
Закэ́р же муй, миро́ ту чяво,
Нэ сов же, сы́го, колбаса!

На кэр сканда́лицо дрэ се́мья.
Сыр кхиныём, мро кхаморо́.
Тэ джяв про та́рго уже вре́мя.
Сов дэвлорэ́са, чяворо́!

Сарэ́ гадже́ сутэ́ ратя́са,
Каґня́ совэ́на тай бакрэ́.
Тэрнэ́, пхурэ́ сунэ́ дыкхэ́на,
Екх халадэ́ нанэ́ сутэ́.

Ratunî Gilî
Lera Janîševa

Dro veš ruva sare sute
Baj-baj, miro tu gudloro.
Soven graja taj čirikle.
Sov, čavoro sovnakuno!

Zaker jakha, miro bejato
I ná de gódla, tut mangav.
Te ušunel tut tîro dado.
So tusa mánge te kerav?

Tu kham miro, me tut kamava,
tu baxt miro i kamlîpen.
No na de godla tut mangava,
Vjedj mange muj jov rozmarel.

Sasuj javela te košel man.
"Vlaxîjka" mange joj phenel.
"Nu ker že vare-so maj sîgo,
Bejato čorořo rovel!"

Me po čanga mangav drivan tut
Tîrdava me ke tu vasta:
Zaker že muj, miro tu čávo,
Ne sov že, sîgo, kolbasa!

Na ker skandálico dre sémja.
Sîr khinîjom, mro khamoro.
Te džav pro tárgo uže vrémja.
Sov devloresa, čavoro!

Sare gadže sute ratjasa
Kaghnja sovena taj bakre.
Terne, phure sune dîkhena,
Jekh xalade nane sute.

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