Beautiful Lake Baikal

I have stacks of unread books on various horizontal surfaces in several rooms. Every once in a while I stop and pick one up and start reading. This weekend I did just that. I picked up “Sacred Sea” by Peter Thomson. I was checking it out before handing it on to a young friend. It is a fascinating account of Thomson (who is an environmental journalist, formerly of NPR’s Living on Earth) journey to Lake Baikal with his younger brother. Then, of course, I needed to listen to a Russian male chorus singing “Holy Sea, Lake Baikal.” It wasn’t the same recording as Dale and Jim Ed used to play, but it was beautiful. That led me to wondering what the lyrics were, so I googled and found a translation. I was very surprised to learn it is a poem written in 1848 devoted to fugitives from prisons, “Thoughts of a Fugitive on Baikal” by Dmitri Pavlovich Davydov. The music was composed by unknown prisoners working in the Nerchinsk mines.

Славное море – священный Байкал!
Славный корабль – омулёвая бочка!
Эй, баргузин, пошевеливай вал, –
Молодцу плыть недалечко. 
Долго я тяжкие цепи носил,
Долго бродил я в горах Акатуя.
Старый товарищ бежать подсобил,
Ожил я, волю почуя.
Шилка и Нерчинск не страшны теперь,
Горная стража меня не поймала,
В дебрях не тронул прожорливый зверь,
Пуля стрелка миновала.

Шел я и вночь, и средь белого дня,
Близ городов, озираяся зорко,
Хлебом кормили крестьянки меня,
Парни снабжали махоркой. 

Славное море – священный Байкал!
Славный мой парус – кафтан дыроватый!
Эй, баргузин, пошевеливай вал,
Слышатся грома раскаты.

Glorious sea the sacred Baikal!
Glorious ship – the omul fish barrel!
Hey, the Baikal wind, stir the billowing waves –
The lad doesn’t have far left to sail.
I’ve been wearing heavy chains for a long time
I’ve been  wandering in the mountains of Akatuy
An old pal helped me to escape,
And I returned to life, feeling the newly found freedom!
I’m not afraid of Shilka and Nerchinsk anymore –
The mountain guards didn’t manage to catch me,
The wild beasts didn’t touch me in the thickets,
And the shooter’s bullet passed me by…

I was going at night time and in the day time
Near the towns I was carefully looking around.
Country women fed me with their bread
And lads supplied me with tobacco.

Glorious sea the sacred Baikal!
My glorious sail – the caftan all in holes!
Hey, the Baikal wind stir the billowing waves –
The rumble of thunder can already be heard!


Then the first comment below the lyrics:

Justus Naumann says:

August 5, 2011 at 10:16 am

Thank you, thank you. Finally the lyrics and a translation to this beautiful song I have listened to for nearly 30 years. A public radio program in Minneapolis, KSJN, had a “roots” and folk music show for many years. Every once in a while they would play Beautiful Lake Baikal by the Pyatnitsky chorus, and even without knowing the words it always brings tears to my eyes. Thank you.

Have you had any pleasant (or otherwise) surprises recently?


36 thoughts on “Beautiful Lake Baikal”

  1. An unpleasant surprise: a dear high school friend passed away suddenly about a month ago. The pleasant surprise that came from it: I reconnected with another high school friend who breeds French Bulldogs. She has a sweet one year old girl dog who, she feels, needs to be a beloved pet, not a breeder or show dog. That bundle of goofiness comes home today to be our new dog. It will be a change from the slow, steady basset – but I think she will be the sort of companion we need right now.

    Liked by 7 people

        1. So far, no, Renee, she does not think she is a big, fierce dog. She thinks she is a bouncing spring that needs to be in your lap with her paws on your shoulders so she can lick your face… We’ll see if any of that changes when she becomes an “only” dog (currently she is one of four adult Frenchies living in a Frenchie herd).

          Liked by 2 people

        2. We are placing our bets that the resident cat remains Princess Addie (she is a spoiled, naughty little princess…a bit like Princess Margaret…) and the dog becomes the Dowager Queen. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  2. It is interesting how some songs capture a sense of a region. The Lake Baikal song sounds so much like a national anthem. I used to hang out with Greeks, and they LOVED the theme music from Zorba the Greek. I was told unequivocally that no Greek could resist that music and no American could claim to truly appreciate it.

    As for the question of the day, life continues to surprise me in good ways and bad ways.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. That tune brings me right back to dancing on the plaza in front of Northrup Auditorium,Tuesday evenings, when I first arrived in the Twin Cities. Folk dances from all over the world; so much fun.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. LInda’s news about the St Agnes Baking Company was disturbing.

    As many of you know, I worked there for a couple of years, so I am seriously concerned about some of the wonderful people who had worked there forever and really made the place function.

    Went to the Mississippi Market early this morning to see a sign stating they would be getting one last delivery on Saturday.

    I grabbed a large pumpernickle (the foundation dough for the Hungarian Raisin Rye and fine basis for a Reuben/Rachel) and a couple of loaves of Zesto Pesto (which freezes pretty well), since that is the last of it forever and ever.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Hard to know if Klecko would do another cookbook (he did one for doggie treats years ago). I imagine a lot depends onwhat his next move is.

        Thing is, these are very much commercial recipes using commercial ingredients and commercial scale equipment. The Zesto Pesto is made on the St Paul Sourdough base (I believe). So it’s entirely doable within those limits.

        You may have just given me a very good idea though…

        If there is demand for some of the special flavors they made, it might be possible to convince another bakery (maybe someplace smaller) to put their spin on that flavor profile. I just gave a couple slices to my neighborhood bakery with the suggestion. We’ll see.

        Liked by 4 people

        1. I’m guessing some of their special flavors will keep on living with new bakeries. The article I read yesterday said there are quite a few places scrambling because they have special breads that are part of their menu and they now have to get those items reproduced quickly.


        2. Brake Bread in my neighborhood does make a raisin rye that I have yet to try. But yeah, the competition for restauran’s business is fierce and I’m sure the remaining commercial bakeries are on this, while the restuarants are rethinking some of their menu items.

          It’s the workers I worry about.

          Liked by 5 people

        3. Brake Bread used to have a booth at my local farmers market and their bread, at least what I tasted, is very good indeed.

          This, of course, does not help your main concern, mig, that of the workers.


  4. Like Anna, my pleasant surprises are linked to unpleasant surprises. I was just in the Cities for a couple of days, and managed to leave one item in two friends homes and a hair salon. The good news is that my friend how travels there regularly can pick up two of the items next week. The other I can live without till my next trip

    I suppose the other pleasant surprise is that I didn’t leave my purse anywhere.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. “Something pleasing or surprising”? THE VIKINGS MIGHT WIN THE SUPER BOWL!!!!!! There. Someone had to say it. I’m a fair weather fan, but the building momentum from this winning streak has overtaken my Sundays. I went to a game party at a restaurant last Sunday wearing my purple wig, purple flapper dress, and face paint. I knew exactly what I was doing. I knew that the crowd would block my vision of the TV monitors and I’d have to stand the whole time to see anything at all, so I made my way through the crowd up to the bar where the view is perfect. Several folks there started chatting with me because my team spirit was visually obvious, then offered to go find a spare barstool so I could squeeze in between them. They even paid for my dinner and a drink!

    When the Vikes performed what’s being called “A Minnesota Miracle” in the last 10 seconds of the game, the place went crazy, of course. It occurred to me that I may never have been in a place where every single person was elated at the same time. I’m heading back for another game party this Sunday. In costume, of course 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  6. I just had my surprise today. Coming out of the gym I almost ran into someone and when he looked up at me he said “nice ink”. Who would have thought that at my advanced age someone would admire a tattoo on me. even if it’s a temporary tattoo. At work today we had a Vikings appreciation day and we’re all encouraged to wear purple or our Vikings wear if we have any. I made temporary tattoos for my team and I’m sporting mine on my face.

    Liked by 5 people

  7. A surprise? Well, I’ll go with the one I got today, which admittedly will thrill only me. A couple days ago I ordered three (photo) prints from my print lab – but this time I decided to go all modern and I ordered aluminum prints. Crazy, huh? When I ordered them, I was pleased at how easy it was to get the files ready for the print lab, but I was a little nervous about the prints. Would they look okay? What if they didn’t look good and I would have wasted a bunch of money? What if everybody that sees them tells me I should have matted and framed a regular print?

    Well, they arrived today and I was pleasantly surprised to see that the prints looked great (in my oh so humble opinion). Since these come ready to hang and are lightweight and sturdy, I think many of these will be in my future.

    Liked by 2 people

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