The Volokh Conspiracy

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Ukraine War Music

The City of Mary: A New Song About the Defense of Mariupol'


The city of Mariupol', which has apparently been almost entirely destroyed by the Russians, but in which the battle seems to still be raging, is on the Azov Sea; "Mariupol'" means "City of Mary." (According to Wikipedia, for some the city was named after a Greek settlement in Crimea, which was named after the Virgin Mary; for others, it was named after the Russian Empress Maria Feodorovna, but of course she in turn was named after the Virgin Mary.)

I just came across this new song (released yesterday, I think, but with over 500K YouTube views) about the defense of the city, by the Ukrainian band Okean Elzy; I liked it a lot, and thought both the words and the music had a very effective tone of defiance and resolution, without excessive shouting or pathos—not subtle, exactly, but subtler than it might have been given the theme:

Here is my very rough translation of the lyrics (I used Google Translate to translate the Ukrainian into Russian—in my experience, that particular sort of translation is generally quite reliable—and then hand-translated the Russian to English; please let me know if I have erred):

The Sun rose over the Azov Sea
The wind blows over the dunes
It's cold, but the sand smells of Spring
My eyes have already gotten used to fatigue
There are too many reasons
I dream of how it will once again be good for you and me

[Refrain] No, the naval guns
Will not destroy my dreams
My heart will never betray my faith
For centuries will stand
The righteous city of Mary
While over the proud Azov Sea
The sun continues to rise

The sky thunders over the Azov
The enemy bombards us with his cannon
In the evening even the concrete smells of war
There is no time and no reason
To think how it will be tomorrow
The heart and the hands have long gotten used to battle

[Refrain] And the naval guns …

We remained ourselves
We wrapped ourselves in night
And our free mouths tightened from pain
But even to the deepest basements
The light will return again
The shout of the new day seeks to be free

[Refrain] And the naval guns …