Saturday, July 11, 2009

Songs of Learning

Way back when I was studying Polish at school, every Friday my teacher would rock out on his guitar and we'd all sing traditional Polish folk songs. There was an entire list, which I have unfortunately forgotten in the States. We'd go through and he'd explain the lyrics, where the song came from, plus the time period from which it originated. Then, we'd (actually, they, my fellow classmates, I usually looked down and tried to mumble something or hum along with the tune) would try to keep up as the professor strummed his six-string and lead us in tune. It's a great way to teach language and I try to get all my students to sing, with varying degrees of success.
There was a wide range of songs, but the most common were venerated staples like Hej Sokoły and Siekiera Motyka. Even though I don't have my lyric pages with me, I can still recall some of the lines (and the melodies.)

A personal favorite of mine was, Śmiej się Griska, a song that probably originated from Ukraine. It's about how this guy, Griska, shouldn't be sad and should drink his troubles away (sounds like something a Slav would say.) Of the lyrics, I only remember the first few lines:
Śmiej się, Griska
Bardzo do kieliśka
something something something
dah dah die dum dum
And that's about it.

The other songs are probably known by every Pole, even if they don't know all the lyrics. I was able to find the lyrics elsewhere, so I'm able to post them here.

Siekiera, Motyka lyrics:
Siekiera, motyka, bimber, szklanka,
W nocy nalot, w dzień łapanka,
Siekiera, Motyka, światło, prąd,
Kiedyż oni pójdą stąd.

Już nie mamy gdzie się skryć,
Hycle nam nie dają żyć.
Po ulicach gonią wciąż,
Patrzą, kogo jeszcze wziąć.

Siekiera, motyka, piłka, linka,
Tutaj Prusy, tam Treblinka,
Siekiera, motyka, światło, prąd,
Drałuj, draniu, wreszcie stąd.

Siekiera, motyka, Styczeń, Luty,
Hitler z Ducem gubią buty,
Siekiera, motyka, linka, drut,
Już Pan malarz jest kaput.

Siekiera, motyka, piłka, alasz,
Przegrał wojnę głupi malarz.
Siekiera, motyka, piłka, noż,
Przegrał wojnę już, już, już

They're rather rowdy songs, good to sing while drinking and waging war.


Krigsrotte said...

Huh, it's been years since I've heard this song! AFAIR it's "śmiej się Griszka, zajrzyj do kieliszka, wódka lepsza od dziewczyny, bo nie zdradzi cię" - it's all/mostly about the girl leaving him, the usual deal.

PolishMeKnob said...

Typically, yeah. Most of the songs I have are about girls and war (plus some booze.)

theminx said...

Ah...thank you! My Grandma used to sing this when I was a kid and I wondered what the rest of the first line was. I only ever remembered the name Griszka, and the "wódka lepsza od dziewczyny" part.

PolishMeKnob said...

I need to find my lyrics sheet though (or just ask my old Polish professor.) My memory of the lyrics may be a bit hazy.

Most Polish songs are about drinking, girls, and war.