Salome - “na sklonku”


Hello and welcome to this week’s edition of SoundCzech – the programme in which we explore the Czech language through song lyrics. The phrase that we will look at is “na sklonku” from the famous Karel Kryl song Salome.

Salome tells the story of the New Testament daughter of Princess Herodias. Salome is a seductive and even bloodthirsty creature. “Nežná i proradna, krutá i bezradná, dábel i beránek, cukr a sůl…” begins Kryl’s song, highlighting the apparent contradictions in her character: “Gentle, but rejected; cruel and clueless; a devil and a lamb, sugar and salt…”

“Salome, noc už je na sklonku,” is the line that contains this week’s phrase. “Salome, the night is coming to an end,” is the best translation. Na sklonku comes from the word sklon, which in itself means declination or fall. Basically, na sklonku means “at the end of” or “at the close of” – for example “na sklonku dvacátého století” means at the close of the twentieth century.

I’ll leave you with the last line of the song: “Salome, trochu jsi pobledla, Salome, v koutku jsi usedla, víčka máš šedivá, nikdo se nedívá, Salome! Pláčeš ...? La la la ...” which translates as “Salome, you have gone a little pale, Salome, you have sat in the corner you have grey eyelids, no-one is looking, Salome, are you crying…?” As ever, with a poet/songwriter like the late Karel Kryl, the meaning lies deep within the words.