Such a Landscape

Harold Bloom memorably wrote that great literature either makes the familiar strange (Milton), or the strange familiar (Shakespeare). Let’s go with that. The landscape of Washington State was made, unforgettably, phantasmagoric in “Twin Peaks.” Poland’s landscape, the familiar roadside wildflowers and white birch forests, takes on a surreal atmosphere in “Such a Landscape,” as performed by Ewa Demarczyk in 1967.

I was curious about the background of this poem-song, and cursory search took me to what appears to be a fan-page (demarczyk.pl). There, I found a short analysis of her vocal interpretation of the song’s lyrics, which I translate here:

In this interpretation, the singer pays much less attention to the content, to the actual meaning of words. They only serve as vehicle for the building of mood. Especially, however, what becomes important in this work is the color and sound of these words… In “Landscape” Demarczyk blurs and obscures the phonics, allowing them to create a glittering, opalescent grid of sounds, interrupted once and again by a sharp syllable explosion. Her vocals, the prolonging of syllables and the special way of articulating them makes them swell with dramatic passion, creating a tense crescendo. “Such a landscape” evokes some unnamed visions, distant landscapes worthy of a Bosch’s or Böklin’s brush. Painful, perverse, and terrifying.


Ewa Demarczyk, “Taki Pejzaż” (Such a Landscape) – 1967

psy kulawe / lame dogs
stroją drogi / adorn the roadsides
diabeł dziewkom / the devil girls’
plącze nogi / legs entangles

drzewa kwiatom / trees to blossoms
kwiaty cierniom / blossoms to thorns
po marzeniach / over dreams
trupy biegną / the corpses run

taki pejzaż / such a landscape [x4]

nieraz zbrodniarz / sometimes a murderer
łzą zapłacze / sheds a tear
ślepy żebrak / a blind beggar
znajdzie pracę / finds a job

błędny ognik / an errant firethorn
ciemny parów / a dark ravine
bosy rycerz / a barefoot knight
złoty laur / a golden laurel

taki pejzaż / such a landscape [x4]

wiatry wieją / blowing winds
sosny krzywe / crooked pines
nieprzydatne / useless
lecz prawdziwe / but authentic

grajek piosnkę / a song from them
z nich wyładzi / a bard will weave
snem napoi / fill with slumber
gwiazdkę zdradzi / expose a star

będzie pejzaż / there’ll be a landscape
śpiewny rzewny / melodious wistful
taki pejzaż / such a landscape [x2]

grajek piosnkę / a song from them
z nich wyładzi / a bard will weave
snem napoi / fill with slumber
gwiazdkę zdradzi / expose a star

taki pejzaż / such a landscape [x4]

***

Lyrics: Andrzej Szmidt. Music: Zygmunt Konieczny

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5 thoughts on “Such a Landscape

  1. These vocals have a kind of theurgic, lulled momentum that seems to boundingly constrict and dilate the eye of a cosmic storm. I thought of the picture ‘Ophelia’ of John Everett Millais. Thanks, I will look more into this Polish spinster…

  2. You always paint a very different picture than how I’d always imagined life behind the iron curtain must have been like. I’d imagined 1984 made real. In reality, there was beauty and family and nation.

  3. A question for Elk:
    What do you think about cell phones in closed meetings?
    20+ recording devices in the room with not a few right there on the table

  4. — In reality, there was beauty and family and nation.

    High culture requires homogeneity. Even when it’s similar high IQ peoples, you end up seeing art dumb-down to what I call “lowest common denominator of authenticity.”

    Their respective countries can produce an Ingmar Bergman, Kurosawa, Kieslowski, and their films will be watched internationally by a certain type of connoisseur. But within those highbrow filmmakers’ countries, people of all classes and level of sophistication will relate to their films. On a mass multicultural market though, it’s Baywatch that catches on.

  5. Each Pond Gone: I never go wrong by checking out the thing you name drop. John Everett Millais “Ophelia” — yes. Pop culture too. Last week you called out “Summer Wine,” which I previously heard once but couldn’t since remember enough about the song to find it again. THX!

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