Posted by: patenttranslator | March 24, 2010

All of the little boy’s hair had to go now

This song is from 1968, but the lyrics were written in the fifties by the Czech poet Josef Kainar. The singer, Vladimir Mysik, then wrote the song based on the words of the poem in the sixties. He used existing lyrics of poems that he really liked in his songs quite a few times, I remember another song with lyrics that were inspired by the poet Vaclav Hrabe who died at the age of 25 under unexplained circumstances in 1965  (Variace na renesancni tema – Variation on a Renaissance Theme).

This particular poem by Josef Kainar is probably about the hopelessness of life in communist Czechoslovakia in the fifties. But I don’t really know what it is about, I am just guessing, especially since I seem to remember that Kainar either was a communist himself, or at least he was taught in elementary school as a representative Czech poet (who has a German name) under the communist regime, probably because his poetry was really interesting.

There is a little bit of hope and beauty hidden somewhere in the text … but you have to look hard ….

But I am not sure where it is hidden. Maybe he is saying that life is beautiful even if there is no hope that things will get better one day.

The words about the French expedition are in Kainar’s poem but not in the song.

Kainar Josef

(26.09.1917 – 16.11.1971)

Stříhali do hola malého chlapečka

Stříhali dohola malého chlapečka All of the little boy’s hair had to go now
kadeře padaly k zemi a zmíraly
the curls were falling on the floor and slowly dying there
kadeře padaly jak růže do hrobu
the curls were falling down, like roses into a grave
Železná židle se otáčela
an iron chair was being turned around

Šedaví pánové v zrcadlech kolem stěn All the gray gentlemen in the mirrors on the walls            
Jenom se dívali Jenom se dívali
they were just watching, they just kept watching
Že už je chlapeček chycen a obelstěn
they saw the little boy captured and hoodwinked
V té bílé zástěře kolem
krku with a white apron, tied around his neck

Jeden z nich Kulhavý učitel na cello One of them, the Limping cello teacher
Zasmál se nahlas A všichni se pohnuli
he laughed out loud, and they were all so startled
Zasmál se nahlas A ono to zaznělo
he laughed out loud, and the sound was just like
Jako kus masa když pleskne o zem
when a piece of bloody meat smacks the floor

Francouzská výprava v osmnáctsettřicetpět A French expedition in eighteen hundred and thirty five
Vešla do katakomb křesťanské sektičky
entered the catacombs of a tiny Christian sect
Smích ze tmy do tmy a pod mrtvý jazyk zpět
there’s laughter from darkness to darkness and back under your dead tongue
Je vždy kus masa jež pleskne o zem
every time when a piece of bloody meat smacks the floor

Učeň se dívá na malého chlapečka A young apprentice is watching the little boy
jak malé zse dívává na jiné 
like a little animal watching another one
Ještě ne chytit a rváti si z cizího
not ready yet to catch and tear into pieces what is not mine
A už přece
but maybe already

Ráno si staví svou růžovou bandasku Each morning he puts his little pink milk can
Na malá kamínka Na vincka chcípáčka
on a tiny stove they call Vincent the conk out artist
A proto učňovy všelijaké myšlenky
all kinds of strange thoughts then float in his head
jsou vždycky stranou A trochu vlažné
all of them kind of off the wall and a bit lukewarm

Toužení svědící jak uhry pod mýdlem The longing itching like zits itching under soap
Toužení svědící po malé šatnářce
the longing after a little coat check girl
Sedává v kavárně pod svými kabáty
she sits in the cafe under her coats
Jako pod mladými oběšenci
as if under young hanged bodies

Stříhali dohola malého chlapečka All of the little boy’s hair had to go now
Dívat se na sebe Nesmět se pohnouti
watch yourself and don’t you make a move
nesmět se pohnouti na židli z železa
no moving is allowed on his iron chair

Už mu to začalo It’s already starting for him too.


  1. You could not be more on the level


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