Taras Shevchenko, "Hamaleia" poem (Translated from Ukrainian by Alexander Jardine Hunter)

T.Shevchenko, Hamaleia


Taras Shevchenko


("Hamaliya" / "Oj nema, nema ni vitru, ni khvyli iz nashoji Ukrajiny!")


Translated by Alexander Jardine Hunter


"Hamaleia" is an historical romance. The poet represents one of the excursions of the Zaporoggian Cossacks under the If leadership of Hamaleia on Skutari, the Turkish city on the Bosphorus. The Cossacks saved western Europe from the Tartar and Turkish Unvasions, by fighting the invaders in the land of the harbarian. The poem describes one of these excursions where the Cossacks animated by the desire of revenging themselves on the Turks and freeing their brothers were lying as captives in Turkish prisons, undertake a perilous trip in small wooden boats over the stormy Black Sea to Skutari, open the prisons, burn the city, and return home with rich spoils and their freed brethren.



Oh breeze there is none,
Nor do the waters run
From our Ukraina's land.
Perhaps, in council there thev stand,
To march against the Turk demand.
We hear not in this foreign land.
Blow winds, blow across the sea.
Bring tidings of our land so free.
Come from Dnieper's Delta low.
Dry our tears and chase awav our woe.

Roar in play thou sea so blue,
In yon boats are Cossacks true
Their caps above are dimly seen.
Rescue for us this may mean.
Once more we'll hear Ukraina's story,
Once more the ancient Cossack glorv
We'll hear before we die."

So in Sktitari the Cossacks sang.
Their tears rolled down, their wailing rang
Busphorus groaned at the Cossack cry.
And then he raised his waves on high.
And  shivering like a  great  grey bull.
His waters roaring far and full
Into the Black Sea's ribs were hurled.
The sea sent  on great  Rosphorus' cry,
To where the sands of the Delta lie.
And then the waters of Dnieper pale
In turn took up the mournful tale.

The father  Dnieper rears his  crest,
Shakes the foam from off his breast
With laughter now aloud he calls
To spirits of the forest walls.
"Hortessa sister river, deep,
Time it is to wake from sleep.
Brother forest, sister river.
Come our children to deliver."
And now the Dnieper is clad with boats,
The Cossack song o'er the water floats.

"In Turkey over there.
Are wealth and riches rare.
Hey, hey, blue sea play.
Then roar upon the shore,
Bringing with you guests so gay.

"This Turkey has in her pockets
Dollars and ducats.
We don't come pockets to pick,
Fire and sword will do the trick.
We mean to free our brothers.

"There the janissary crouches,
There are pashas on soft couches.
Hey-ho, foemen ware.
For nothing do we care,
Ours are liberty and glory"

On they sail a-singing
The sea to the wind gives heed,
In foremost boat the helm a-guiding
Brave Hamaleia takes the lead.

"Oh, Hamaleia, our hearts are fainting,
Behold the sea in madness raving.""
"Don't fear," he says,  "these spurting
We'll hide behind the water mountains."

All slumber in the harem,
Byzantium's paradise.
Skutari sleeps, bin Bosphorus
In madness shouts "Arise!
Awake Bvzantium!" it roars and groans.
"Awake them not, Oh Bosphorus."
Replies the sea in thunder tones.
"If thou dost I'll fill thy ribs with sand,
Bury thee in mud, change thee to solid land
Perhaps thou knowest not the guest
I bring to break the sultan's rest."

So the sea insisted,
For he loved the brave Slavonic band;
And Bosphorus desisted,
While in slumber lay the Turkish land.
The lazy Sultan in his harem slept.
But only in Skutari the weary pris'ners wept
For something are they waiting,
To God from dungeon praying,
While the waves go roaring by.

"Oh, loved God of Ukraine's land,
To us in prison stretch thy hand:
Slaves are we a Cossack band.
Shame it is now in truth to say,
Shame if will be at judgement day
For us from foreign tomb to rise,
And at thy court, to the world's surprise
Show Cossack hands in chains."
"Strike and kill,
Now the infidels will get their fill
Death to the unbelievers all."
How they scream beyond the wall!

They've heard of Hamaleia's fame,
Skutari maddens at his name.

"Strike on", he shouts, "kill and slay
To the castle break your way".
All the guns of Skutari roar
The foes in frenzy onward pour.
The cossacks rush with panting: breath
The janissaries fall in death.

Hamaleia in Skutari
Dances through the flames in glee.
To the jail his way he makes,
Through the prison doors he breaks,
Off the feet the fetters takes.

"Fly away my birds so gray.
In the town to share the prey."
But the falcons trembled
Nor their fears dissembled
So lung they had not heard
A single Christian word.

Night herself was frightened.
No flames her darkness lightened.
The old mother could not see
How the Cossacks pay their fee.

"Fear not! Look ahead,
To the Cossack banquet spread.
Dark over all, like a common dav
And this no little holiday."

"No sneak thieves with Hamaleia.
To eat their bacon silently
Without a frying pan."

"Let's have a light,"
Now burning bright
To heaven flames Skutari.
With all its ruined navy.

Byzantium awakes, its eyes it opens wide
With grinding teeth hastes to its
comrade's side,
Byzantium roars and rages,
With hands to the shore it reaches.
From waters gasping strives to rise,
And then with sword in heart it dies.

With fires of hell Skutari's burning,
Razaars with streams of blood are churning
Broad Bosphorus pours in its waves.
Like blackbirds in a bush
The Cossacks fiercely rush.
No living soul escapes.
Untouched by fire,
They the walls down tear.
Silver and gold in their caps they bear,
And load their boats with riches rare.

Burns Skutari, ends the fray,
The warriors gather and come away,
Their pipes with burning cinders light,
And row their boats through waves flame bright.



                                  Taras Shevchenko, Hamaleia, image, p.27


Taras Shevchenko's poem "Hamaleia"​
"Ghamalija" / "Oj nema, nema ni vitru, ni khvyli iz nashoji Ukrajiny!"
("Гамалія" / «Ой нема, нема ні вітру, ні хвилі із нашої України!")


Translated by Alexander Jardine Hunter


Source of English translation of the poem: "The Kobzar of the Ukraine". Being select Poems of Taras Shevchenko. Done into English Verse with Biographical Fragments by Alexander Jardine Hunter, p. 21 - 27. Source of the illustrations - the same book.


Source of the original poem in Ukrainian:
Taras Shevchenko. Zibrannja tvoriv: U 6 t. Ч K., 2003. Ч T. 1: Poezija 1837-1847. Ч S. 234-238; S. 685-687.


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



   Read more:

Taras Shevchenko, The Kobzar of the Ukraine, English translation by Alexander Jardine Hunter, Front cover

"The Kobzar of the Ukraine". Being select Poems of Taras Shevchenko. Done into English Verse with Biographical Fragments by Alexander Jardine Hunter.

Taras Shevchenko
"Hamaliya" / "Oh, the winds are mute, the tides do not carry"
("Гамалія" / "Ой нема, нема ні вітру, ні хвилі")

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