Ya mogilu miloi iskal,
no yeyo naiti nye lekhko.
Dolgo ya tomilsja i stradal.
Gdye zhe tý, maya Suliko?

I was looking for my sweetheart's grave,
but it was hard to find.
For a long time I was worrying and suffering.
Where are you, my Suliko?


Rozu po puti vstretil ya
f poiskakh uidya daleko.
"Roza pozhaley, utyesh minya,
nyet li u tibya Suliko."

I met a rose on my way
when I was searching far away.
"Please, dear rose, give me comfort:
Is Suliko perhaps with you?"


Roza naklonivshis slekhka,
svoi buton paskrýv shiroko.
Tikho prosheptala mnye tagda:
"Nye naiti tibye Suliko."

The rose bowed a bit
and widely opened her bud.
Then she softly whispered:
"You must not look for Suliko any longer."


Sredi roz dushistýkh, f teni
zvonko pyesnyu pel solovyey.
Ya u solovya tagda sprasil
Suliko gdye on pritail.

Among the fragrant roses, in the shadow,
a nightingale brightly sang his song.
There I asked the nightingale
where he had hidden Suliko.


Soloveyka vdrug zamoltshal,
rozu klyuvom tronul lekhko:
"Tý nashol, shto ishtshesh", on skazal,
"vyetshným snom zdyes spit Suliko."

Suddenly the little nightingale fell silent
and softly touched the rose with his beak:
"You have found what you are looking for", he said,
"Suliko is sleeping here in eternal slumber."


Words and music: Folksong from Grusinia
       a as in "bar", e as in "bed", i as in "bid", o as in "bore", u as in "blue"
       y = as in "yellow" / ý = dull i, as in "bill"
       s = always voiceless, as in "son" / z = voiced, as in "zone"
       sh = voiceless, as in "mesh" / zh = voiced, like the s in "measure"
       kh = mostly rough, like the ch in Scotch "loch", but smooth when "e" or "i" follows
       a, e, i, o, u, y = the underlined vowel signifies the stressed syllable of a word.
Arrangement for balalaika, musical notation, transcription and analogous translation: Kai Kracht
       This song, so full of soul and oriental magic, comes from the Caucasus. Many text versions are known, in Grusinian as well as in Russian language, and here is one of the most widely spread Russian versions.
       Who is still aware nowadays that this simple song with its touching, longing tune had to go through the ups and downs of a spectacular political career? – Since this song, like Stalin, came from Grusinia it was held to be "Stalin's favourite song", and for a long time it was sung often and fervently. Later, when Stalin's personality cult was condemned in 1956, also "Suliko" was banned and was not heard for years ... But today there is a new generation, and they can sing this song again, unencumbered by the resentments of the past – just because "Suliko" is a beautiful song.
© Kai Kracht 2002