Russia and The Other: A Cultural Approach
Slavic 194

The Hills of Manchuria - Galich

The Hills of Manchuria / На сопках Манчьжурии

"The Hills of Manchuria" (На сопках Манчьжурии), so prominently sung by the main character in Mikhalkov's Urga (Close to Eden), refers to the Battle of Mukden (Manchuria). This was the final land battle of the Russo-Japanese War and took place in February-early March, 1905. Casualties were exceptionally heavy (the Russians lost 89,000 out of 330,000, and the Japanese, 71,000 out of 270,000 men). As the Russian tradition would have it, the battle was lost due largely to the poor generalship of the Russian Commander, A.N. Kuropatkin, who decided to retreat, which soon led to rout of the Russian army by the Japanese.

“Na sopkakh” has become one of the most popular Russian songs and has been transformed into urban folklore, with different versions coexisting with the original.

Hear such a version here.

На Сопках Маньчжурии (1905)

Муз. И.А. Шатрова. Слова С. Петрова (Скитальца)


The Hills of Manchuria (1905)

Music by I.A. Shatrov, lyrics by S. Petrov (Skitalets)

"Тихо вокруг, сопки покрыты мглой,
Вот из-за туч блеснула луна,
Могилы хранят покой.
Белеют кресты - это герои спят.
Прошлого тени кружат давно,
О жертвах боев твердят.
Тихо вокруг, ветер туман унес,
На сопках Маньчжурии воины спят
И русских не слышат слез.
Плачет, плачет мать родная,
Плачет молодая жена,
Плачут все, как один человек,
Злой рок и судьбу кляня!...
Пусть гаолян вам навевает сны,
Спите герои русской земли,
Отчизны родной сыны.
Вы пали за Русь, погибли вы за Отчизну,
Поверьте, мы за вас отомстим
И справим кровавую тризну."

 1905 г.

Around us, it is calm. Hills are covered by darkness.

Suddenly, the moon shines through the clouds,

Graves hold their calm.

The white glow of the crosses—heroes are asleep.

The shadows of the past circle around,

Recall again anad again the victims of battles.

Around us, it’s calm; the wind blew the fog away,

Warriors are asleep on the hills of Manchuria

And Russian weeping is canot be heard.

Dear mother is shedding tears,

The young wife is weeping

All like one are crying,

Cursing fate, cursing destiny!

Let kaoliang’s rustling[1]  lull you to sleep,

Rest in peace, heroes of the Russian land,

Dear Fatherland’s sons.

You fell for Russia, perished for Fatherland,

Believe us, we shall avenge you

And celebrate a bloody wake


 Related Links:

 Alexander Galich’s 1969 (?) version


[1] Kaoliang - tall grass common in Manchuria