Monday, August 07, 2006

"GLOOMY SUNDAY": TRANSLATIONS

Supposedly, more people have killed themselves while listening to "Gloomy Sunday" than any other song. The song was purportedly so well known for its inspirations to suicide that people started calling it the "Hungarian Suicide Song". These claims have no veracity whatsoever.

The song was composed by a Hungarian pianist named Rezső Seress in 1933.

The original lyrics in Hungarian are transcribed as follows:

Ôsz van és peregnek a sárgult levelek
Meghalt a földön az emberi szeretet
Bánatos könnyekkel zokog az öszi szél
Szívem már új tavaszt nem vár és nem remél
Hiába sírok és hiába szenvedek
Szívtelen rosszak és kapzsik az emberek...

Meghalt a szeretet!

Vége a világnak, vége a reménynek
Városok pusztulnak, srapnelek zenélnek
Emberek vérétôl piros a tarka rét
Halottak fekszenek az úton szerteszét
Még egyszer elmondom csendben az imámat:
Uram, az emberek gyarlók és hibáznak...

Vége a világnak!

I've found three different translations of the song into English. The most literal translation is provided first in the list below, followed by the Desmond Carter translation and the commercial translation by Sam Lewis. The Carter translation has been used in covers by Paul Robeson and Diamanda Galás, and the Sam Lewis translation has been used in covers by Billie Holiday, Sarah Brightman, Björk, Elvis Costello, and Sarah McLachlan.

1.: Literal translation

It is autumn and the leaves are falling
All love has died on earth
The wind is weeping with sorrowful tears
My heart will never hope for a new spring again
My tears and my sorrows are all in vain
People are heartless, greedy and wicked...

Love has died!

The world has come to its end, hope has ceased to have a meaning
Cities are being wiped out, shrapnel is making music
Meadows are coloured red with human blood
There are dead people on the streets everywhere
I will say another quiet prayer:
People are sinners, Lord, they make mistakes...

The world has ended!

2.: Desmond Carter translation

Sadly one Sunday I waited and waited
With flowers in my arms for the dream I'd created
I waited 'til dreams, like my heart, were all broken
The flowers were all dead and the words were unspoken
The grief that I knew was beyond all consoling
The beat of my heart was a bell that was tolling

Saddest of Sundays

Then came a Sunday when you came to find me
They bore me to church and I left you behind me
My eyes could not see one I wanted to love me
The earth and the flowers are forever above me
The bell tolled for me and the wind whispered, "Never!"
But you I have loved and I bless you forever

Last of all Sundays

3.: Sam Lewis translation

(The final stanza was added to make the song 'less depressing' and more commercially viable.)

Sunday is gloomy, my hours are slumberless
Dearest the shadows I live with are numberless
Little white flowers will never awaken you
Not where the black coach of sorrow has taken you
Angels have no thought of ever returning you
Would they be angry if I thought of joining you?

Gloomy Sunday

Gloomy is Sunday, with shadows I spend it all
My heart and I have decided to end it all
Soon there'll be candles and prayers that are sad I know
Let them not weep let them know that I'm glad to go
Death is no dream for in death I'm caressing you
With the last breath of my soul I'll be blessing you

Gloomy Sunday

Dreaming, I was only dreaming
I wake and I find you asleep in the deep of my heart, here
Darling, I hope that my dream never haunted you
My heart is telling you how much I wanted you

Gloomy Sunday

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