Taras Shevchenko (1814-1861

)
My testament When I am dead, then bury me In my beloved Ukraine, My tomb upon a grave mound high Amid the spreading plain, So that the fields, the boundless steppes, The Dnieper's plunging shore My eyes could see, my ears could hear The mighty river roar. When from Ukraine the Dnieper bears Into the deep blue sea The blood of foes... then will I leave These hills and fertile fields — I'll leave them all and fly away To the abode of God, And then I'll pray... But till that day I nothing know of God. Oh bury me, then rise ye up And break your heavy chains And water with the tyrants' blood The freedom you have gained. And in the great new family, The family of the free, With softly spoken, kindly word Remember also me. Pereyaslav December 25, 1845 Translated by John Weir

*** When I die, pray, bury me In my beloved Ukraine, My tomb upon a grave mound high Amid the spreading plain, So that the fields, the boundless steppes, The Dnieper's plunging shore My eyes might see, and my ears hear The mighty river roar. When from Ukraine the Dnieper bears Into the deep blue sea The blood of foes... then will I leave These hills and fertile fields — I'll leave them all and fly away To the abode of God, And then I'll pray... But till that day I nothing know of God. Oh bury me, then rise ye up And break your heavy chains And water with the tyrants' blood The freedom you have gained.

And in the great new family, The family of the free, With softly spoken, kindly word Pray, men, remember me. [Pereyaslav, December 25, 1845] Translated by John Weir

*** I desire to be buried Where the Dnipro's running by. On this land of steppes and cherries Bury me when I die. Bury me that I could hear Mighty river setting free; Endless fields and hill-sides near, Splendid scapes I'd like to see. And when blood will run away To the depth of water blue, So then I'll find the way To God to pray for you. I will leave the life I led When the pains be swept by blood, I will plead with Lord... before that I don't know any God. Bury me and then through pains Get together on my grave, Free yourself and break the chains Lest no one of you be slave! And in future, that you'll gain Just recall me, don't forget, Mention me in free Ukraine With a quiet, kind word. Translated by Anna Revchoun The Testament Dig my grave and raise my barrow By the Dnieper-side In Ukraina, my own land, A fair land and wide. I will lie and watch the cornfields, Listen through the years To the river voices roaring, Roaring in my ears. When I hear the call Of the racing flood, Loud with hated blood, I will leave them all, Fields and hills ; and force my way Right up to the Throne Where God sits alone ;

Clasp His feet and pray... But till that day What is God to me ? Bury me, be done with me, Rise and break your chain, Water your new liberty With blood for rain. Then, in the mighty family Of all men that are free, May be sometimes, very softly You will speak of me ? Translated by E. L. Voynich Testament When I'm dead then let me slumber Underneath a mound, 'Mid the rolling steppe, with precious Ukraine earth around ; That the mighty girth of acres, Dnieper's craggy shores, I may gaze on, and may hearken How the blusterer roars. When it bears away from Ukraine To the azure sea Foemen's blood, — then I'll depart from Mountain-side and lea : These unheeding, I'll be speeding Even unto God, There to pray, but till that happen, I'll know naught of God. Grant me burial, then uprising, Shatter every gyve ; Drench with evil blood of foemen Freedom that it thrive. And my name in your great kindred, Kindred free and new, Ye shall cherish, lest it perish, — Speak me fair and true. Translated by Paul Selver

*** I care not if 'tis in Ukraine Or far from her I live and die ; I care not if 'neath alien sky Remembered or forgotten by Her and her people I remain. In slavery, midst alien folk Grow up I did, and 'neath the yoke Of slavery I'll die unmourned, Far from the land that is our own And yet in not — I'll leave fore'er Our sweet Ukraine, and no trace there Of me, an exile, will be left. And father will not say to son : " In prayer our voices let us lift For one who suffered martyrdom For our Ukraine... " I care not if They ever pray for me or not, To me this matters little... But If Evil lulls my hapless land To sleep by ruse and cunning, and She wakes in flames and robbed — in such, As fear I, is to be her lot — To me this matters... very much. [Sankt Petersburg, between April 17 and May 19, 1847] Translated by Irina Zheleznova

*** It does not touch me, not a whit, If I live in Ukraine or no, If men recall me, or forget, Lost as I am, in foreign snow, — Touches me not the slightest whit. Captive, to manhood I have grown In strangers' homes, and by my own Unmourned, a weeping captive still, I'll die ; all that is mine, I will Bear off, let not a trace remain In our own glorious Ukraine, Our own land — yet a stranger's rather. And speaking with his son, no father Will recall, nor bid him : Pray, Pray, son ! Of old, for our Ukraine, They tortured all his life away. It does not touch me, not a whit, Whether that son will pray, or no... But it does touch me deep if knaves, Evil rogues lull our Ukraine Asleep, and only in the flames Let her, all plundered, wake again... That touches me with deepest pain. [May, 1847 St. Petersburg. In the Fortress..] From In the Fortress. III Translated by Vera Rich

*** It is indifferent to me, if I Live in Ukraine or live there not at all, Whether or not men let my memory die ; Here in an alien land, mid snows piled high It will not matter that such things befall. In serfdom, among strangers was I reared, And unlamented wholly by my own In exile I shall die, in grief uncheered, And to my nameless grave shall pass alone. No trace of me, alas, will then remain To see in all our glorious Ukraine, In all that land of ours that is not ours. No father will commend me to his son, To pray for me to God, source of all powers : " Pray then, my boy ! For us his course was run. He died to save Ukraine, whom Fate devours. " It is indifferent to me, I say, Whether or not that son for me should pray... But while I live I cannot bear to see A wicked people come with crafty threat, To lull Ukraine yet strip her ruthlessly And waken her amid the flames they set — Sure, no indifference in me these wrongs beget ! Translated by C.H. Andrusyshen and Watson Kirkconnell *** I care not, shall I see my dear Own land before I die, or no, Nor who forgets me, buried here In desert wastes of alien snow ; Though all forget me, — better so. A slave from my first bitter years, Most surely I shall die a slave Ungraced by any kinsmen's tears ; And carry with me to the grave Everything ; and leave no trace, No little mark to keep my place In the dear lost Ukraina Which is not ours, although our land. And none shall ever understand ; No father to his son shall say : — Kneel down, and fold your hands and pray ; He died for our Ukraina. I care no longer if the child Shall pray for me, or pass me by. One only thing I cannot bear : To know my land, that was beguiled Into a death-trap with a lie, Trampled and ruined and defiled... Ah, but I care, dear God ; I care ! Translated by E. L. Voynich

*** Beside the house, the cherry's flowering, Above the trees the May bugs hum, The ploughmen from the furrows come, The girls all wander homeward, singing, And mothers wait the meal for them. Beside the house, a family supper, Above, the evening star appears, The daughter serves the dishes here ; It's useless to advise her, mother, The nightingale won't let her hear. Beside the house, the mother lulls The little children for the night, Then she, too, settles at their side. And all is still... Only the girls And nightingales disturb the quiet. [May, 1847 St. Petersburg. In the Fortress.] From In the Fortress. VIII Translated by Vera Rich An evening A cherry grove beside the cottage stands, The beetles hum above the cherry-trees, The ploughmen homeward plod to take their ease, Young women likewise come in singing bands, Mothers avait them all, with food to please. The family beside the cottage eats ; The evening star is rising in the sky ; The daughter helps the supper tasks to ply ; Words of advice the mother's mind repeats But songs of nightingales her words outvie. Her little folks beside the cottage small The mother puts to rest in slumber deep, And she herself beside them falls asleep. Peace now prevails. But the young women all And the sweet nightingale no silence keep. Translated by C.H. Andrusyshen and Watson Kirkconnell

*** Day comes and goes, night comes and goes... Sinking your head in hands clasped tight, You wonder why there still comes no Apostle of wisdom, truth and right. 5.XI. [1860 St. Petersburg.] Translated by Vera Rich

*** Drowsy waves, sky unwashed and dirty, And on the bank there out beyond, The rushes sway without a wind As they were drunken... God of mercy ! Is it still long I must endure, Here, in this prison that holds sure Though lockless, by this worthless sea, This weary life ? It does not speak, The yellowed grass, but silent, sways As if alive, across the plain. To speak the truth is not its task.... And there is no one else to ask. [1848 Kos-Aral.] Translated by Vera Rich

*** Why weighs the heart heavy ? Why drags life so dreary ? Why is the heart weeping and sobbing and wailing As a child cries from hunger ? Heart, heavy and weary, What do you long for ? Why are you ailing ? Are you longing for food or for drink or repose ? Slumber, my heart, for eternity sleeping, Uncovered ans shattered... Let hateful people Rage on... O my heart, let your eyes gently close !... 13.XI. 1844 St. Petersburg. Translated by Vera Rich

Reaper Through the fields the reaper goes Piling sheaves on sheaves in rows ; Hills, not sheaves, are these. Where he passes howls the earth, Howl the echoing seas. All the night the reaper reaps, Never stays his hands nor sleeps, Reaping endlessly ; Whets his blade and passes on... Hush, and let him be. Hush, he cares not how men writhe With naked hands against the scythe. Wouldst thou hide in field or town ? Where thou art, there he will come ; He will reap thee down. Serf and landlord, great and small ; Friendless wandering singer, — all, All shall swell the sheaves that grow To mountains ; even Tzar shall go.*

And me too the scythe shall find Cowering alone behind Bars or iron ; swift and blind, Strike, and pass, and leave me, stark And forgotten in the dark. * Change of metre as in original. [Translator's note.] Translated by E. L. Voynich

*** Thy youth is over ; time has brought Winter upon thee ; hope is grown Chill as the north wind ; thou art old. Sit thou in dark house alone ; With no man converse shalt thou hold, With no man shalt take counsel ; nought, Nought art thou, nought be thy desire. Sit still alone by thy dead fire Till hope shall mock thee, fool, again, Blinding thine eyes with frosty gleams, Vexing thy soul with dreams, with dreams Like snowflakes in the empty plain. Sit thou alone, alone and dumb ; Cry not for Spring, it will not come. It will not enter at thy door, Nor make thy garden green once more, Nor cheer with hope thy withered age, Nor loose thy spirit from the cage... Sit still, sit still ! Thy life is spent ; Nought art thou, be with nought content. Translated by E. L. Voynich