Poem of Taras Shevchenko, "Chyhyryn". Translated from Ukrainian by Vera Rich

Taras Shevchenko


("Chyhyryn" / "Chyhryne, Chyhryne")


Chyhyryn, O Ghyhyryn!
All things must come to naught 
On earth, and now thy holy glory 
Is borne like a mote 
Upon the cold blast of the winds,
Lost in the cloud. There fly 
Year after year above the earth,
Dnipro itself runs dry,
The gravemounds crumble into dust, 
The lofty mounds, thy erstwhile 
Glory; — and of thee, thyself,
Thou dotard, old and feeble,
No one will even say a word,
No one will point the place 
Where thou once didst stand, nor why... 
Not even in jest would say!
Why with the Poles did we once fight? 
Engage the Hordes with slashing knives? 
Why did we harrow with our pikes 
Muscovite ribs? There once we sowed, 
And well we watered with red blood,
With sabres harrowed what was sown.
But in that field what crop has grown? 
Rue, rue has grown,
And choked our freedom down.


And I, on thy ruins, demented, remain 
And uselessly pour out my tears. But Ukraine 
Has fallen asleep, mould-grown, covered in weeds, 
Set her heart there to rot in the mud, in a puddle,
Let in poisonous snakes to a tree-trunk’s cold hollow, 
To her children a hope in the steppe she bequeathed, 
But that hope...
The wind scattered over the plain,
The waves swept it over the seas.
Then let the wind bear all away 
In its untrammelled flight,
And let the heart then weep and pray: 
On this earth—holy right!


Chyhyryn, O Chyhyryn,
Thou alone my friend!
Thou wast robbed of all while sleeping: 
Forestland and steppe 
And all Ukraine! Sleep on then, swathed 
By Jewry, till the sun 
Rises, till these foolish lads,
The Hetmans, are full-grown.
Having said my prayers, I too 
Would sleep, but my cursed thoughts 
Struggle to set my soul afire,
Strive to rend my heart.
Do not rend, thoughts, do not burn!
I shall bring back, maybe,
My truth, all fortuneless, my words 
Spoken quietly;
Perhaps, indeed, I yet may forge 
A new blade from it, make a 
Keen new share for the old plough,
And, sweating out the acres,
Maybe I’ll plough that fallow land,
And on the fallow, there 
I shall scatter all my tears,
Sow my heartfelt tears.
Maybe they will shoot and grow 
Into two-edged blades 
That will cleave the evil, rotten 
Sickly heart, will drain 
From it all the poisoned blood,
And in its place will pour 
Into it living Cossack blood,
Holy, clean and pure!...

Maybe, maybe... and there between, 
Between the knives will grow 
The periwinkle and the rue,
And words, forgotten now,
My own words, gentle-voiced and sad,
Quiet and God-fearing,
Will be remembered, and a girl’s heart,
Tremulous and timid,
Will quiver like a little fish,
And she will remember
Me too, then... O my words, my tears,
O thou that art my heaven!
Sleep, Chyhyryn, and let thy children 
Under foemen perish!
Sleep on, O Hetman, till there rise
In this world truth and justice.

Taras Shevchenko's poem
"Chyhyryn" / "Chyhryne, Chyhryne"
("Чигрине, Чигрине")
1844, Moscow, (Москва)

Translated by Vera Rich

Source of the original poem in Ukrainian: Taras Shevchenko. Zibrannia tvoriv: U 6 t. — K., 2003. — T. 1: Poeziia 1837-1847. — S. 254 - 256; S. 694 - 697.  

Source of English translation of the poem: Taras Shevchenko."Song out of Darkness". Selected poems translated from the Ukrainian by Vera Rich. London, 1961, p. 23 - 25.

Here you can find Ukrainian text of the Taras Shevchenko's poem:
Original poem in Ukrainian

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