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Music / Stenka Razin

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"Volga, Volga, mother Volga
Deep and wide beneath the sun,
You have ne'er seen such a present
From the Cossack of the Don."

Stenka Razin (or Ponizovaya Volnitsa) is a Russian ballad with words by Dmitri Sadovnikov in 1883. It chronicles a fictional episode in the life of the real-life Don Cossack chieftain Stepan (Stenka) Razin (1630-1671).

The song opens with Stenka and his men sailing on the Volga and celebrating Stenka's wedding to a Persian princess. Everybody is drunk and Stenka particularly so. Then someone maliciously whispers that Stenka has become a woman since his wedding, and Stenka angrily answers that he will prove that his men are most important to him. After delivering the lines quoted above, he throws his poor bride into the Volga. His men are shocked by his brutality, but Stenka orders them to stop whining and start dancing and singing instead.


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