Song of the day (11th November) – Katy Carr – “O Mój Rozmarynie” (Oh My Rosemary).

On November 11, we celebrated Independence Day here in Poland, so I’d like to traditionally share something in Polish, especially that there’s very little Polish music on here and also because I myself don’t spontaneously listen to a whole lot of Polish music. Another tradition I like to observe here on Polish national holidays and especially Independence Day is to share something from an artist whose first language is not Polish, as I find it very interesting to find out how they cope with it. I first became interested in Polish-language music by Polish non-native speakers thanks to a programme Strefa Rokendrola Wolna od Angola (English-Free Rock And Roll Zone) on Polish Radio Programme 3, where the presenter, known as Doktor Wilczur (Wilczur literally translates to Alsatian, as in the Alsatian wolf dog which is a bit of a wordplay because his actual surname means sheep dog in Polish, and Doktor Wilczur is the name of the main character in the Polish movie Znachor (The Quack) plays music in any language possible except English, and normally also except Polish since there’s plenty of Polish music you can hear on the radio in other circumstances. But he makes an exception on Polish national holidays, when, depending on which day of the week they fall, he either plays music sung by Poles in other languages (still no English, mind you) or, what seems to be more fascinating not only to me but also to most listeners, music sung by people from other nations in Polish.

And the singer whose song I want to share with you today has become known to me thanks to Doktor Wilczur. When he played her song (a different one than I am sharing) I remember that he classified her as some eccentric artist who just doesn’t know how else to express her quirkiness so she sings in languages like Polish even though she’s British. Nowhere near his exact words, but that was more or less the point. Except when I later checked her out it turned out it’s not the case at all. Because Katy Carr’s mother is Polish, and while it seems like Katy started learning Polish on her own, she clearly loves her second motherland very passionately and she has released a lot more music in Polish or about Polish history than just two songs. She also popularises Polish history and Polish-British connections in Britain and works with the Polonia in her home country. Interestingly, she’s also an aviator.

From what I understand, she also writes her own songs, which is really amazing given that it’s not her first language. Her Polish is also really good while singing.

This song, however, is not Katy’s own material, but a traditional Polish song strongly associated with WWI. It’s not sure who has written it, and apparently it has been based on several different earlier folk songs. There are also several versions of this song.

I managed to translate it to English, and man have I learned a fair few new English words in the process. 😀 The song consists of a whole lotta repetitions, so I decided to not include them in the translation.


Oh my rosemary, blossom,

I will go to the girl,

And if she answers me “I do not love you.”,

Uhlans are recruiting, riflemen are marching,

I will enlist.

They will give me a chestnut horse,

And a sharp saber,

To my side.

Oh my Rosemary,

They will give me boots with spurs,

And a grey overcoat,

With facings.

They will give me an ashen uniform,

So that I wouldn’t miss,

My home.

They will give me a canteen with booze,

So that I wouldn’t miss,

The girl.

And when I will become an old sweat,

I will go to the girl,

For a kiss.

Oh my Rosemary,