In one year's time to the day

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Welcome to another edition of SoundCzech - Radio Prague's Czech language series that allows you to learn interesting expressions with the help of song lyrics. Today's song is by the band Divoký Bill (Wild Bill) and is called "Dávno", meaning A Long Time Ago. The words to listen for are: "do roka a do dne".

"Do roka a do dne" means "in a year's time to the day" an archaic expression that finds common use in a number of Czech fairy tales and legends. A lot can be promised or prophesised to happen "Do roka a do dne" in a year's time to the day: marriage, a hero's return, punishment or a curse, revenge. In "Dávno", a song about the past, Divoky Bill draw inspiration form the classic Faustian bargain. "Do roka a do dne přijdu si pro tebe" in exactly one year's time I will come for you; "Do roka a do dne zapomeň na nebe" - in a year to the day forget about the sky: the Devil himself will collect you. In the song, the protagonist has a year to enjoy life's riches but not a minute more! "Do roka a do dne přijdu si pro tebe", in a year's time to the day I will come for you.

"Teď zdá se to krátký" - now it seems too short. It was a long beautiful year but you have to keep your end of the bargain "do roka a do dne". Having sold your soul, there is no escape!

If you invest in a book of Czech fairy tales or legends you will sooner or later come across the expression "do roka a do dne". But you may also hear the expression in person. Many guides on tours of Czech castles are familiar with local legends and will tell you about magic mirrors hanging on some castle walls. You can expect to hear prophesies of your own but usually more pleasant than what befalls the protagonist in Divoky Bill's "Dávno". If you look into some mirrors and see your shimmering reflection, guides will tell you "Do roka" - in a year's time - your life will change. You may find yourself rich, see the birth of a sibling, or even get married "do roka a do dne" in exactly one year to the day.

If that doesn't catch your fancy, you can always use the expression to form your own special if rather "protracted" New Year's resolutions: For example, "do roka a do dne přestanu kouřit" - I will quit smoking (not tomorrow of course) but in one year's time to the day.