Only sadnesses are counted

Because I woke up singing it. It’s a sad song but the point is that I woke up singing.

Once (Jednom) by Djordje Balašević

(translated on the spot by Manja Maksimovič)

Once they were planting a lime tree
Old Nestorov, Mr. Čeda and another guy,
I was new in that cartoon,
neighbour’s little kid who was allowed to watch.
Old Nestorov, burning the weeds, said to me:
“You’re young, you’ll be here for the shade.”

Once I loved for real,
I mean love as in true, silly and immense,
I drove a thousand miles
like that ugly Frenchman in a beautiful movie,
rails were pulling me under the wheels of the machine
but she saved me,
she switched off all the rest.

Hey, everything comes to its place,
I’ve known the rules since forever:
only sadnesses are counted.
Hey, church bells are tolling on St. Luke’s day
it’s the autumn, it always brings me down, grey as it is.

Once she passed me by
with a guy who I knew, I almost said hi.
She lowered her eyes in time
but it was enough for tumult in my mind.
A meaningless hello and a nod
and everything that follows,
there there, dolly, it’s all right.

Once they were burning the leaves off that lime tree
the smoke was pillowing skywards
where there are – since they have passed –
Old Nestorov, Mr. Čeda and another guy.
Who doesn’t understand the tree first
and only plants it after,
accomplishes nothing
and he’ll realise sooner or later
he has no idea what shade is.


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