THE COLD RAVINE
("Kholodyj Jar" / "Холодий Яр")
To every man his own misfortune,
Nor am I without one,
Though it is not mine, but borrowed,
Still it is — misfortune.
Why, one would say, recall events
That happened so long past,
Rouse them from God knows how far back?
Good that they sleep at last!...
Take, for example, that Ravine!
Already there remains
Not even a narrow track to it,
As though there never came
Man’s foot there — yet, if you but think,
A good road ran between
The sacred Motryn monastery
And that dread Ravine.
Of old the Haydamaky there
In that Ravine pitched camp,
They primed their muskets for the fight
And made their lances sharp.
In that Ravine assembled then
(With suffering worn and tried)
Father with son, brother with brother,
In order, side by side,
To face the evil enemy,
The accursed Pole.
Where art thou, then, path to the deep
Ravine once trodden well?
Hast grown thyself with a dark grove?
Or have new hangmen come
To plant thee over, so that now
People cannot come
For thy advice : what shall they do
With masters just and good,
With wicked, evil cannibals,
With new Poles? no, indeed,
You cannot hide it! Zaliznyak
Above the Ravine still hovers,
Glances over towards Uman,
Looking out for Gonta.
Do not hide it, do not trample
On the Holy Gospel,
Do not hail ferocious Nero:
Do not try to find your glory
In the Tsar’s “crusade”,
For you yourselves do not know what
These Tsarlings perpetrate,
But shout that “for the Fatherland”
You make this great oblation
Of soul and skin! Forsooth yours is
Indeed a sheeplike nature!
The fool offers his neck, not knowing
What for it is wanted,
And, what is more, the idle loafer
Scorns and sneers at Gonta!
The Haydamaky were no warriors,
Thieves they were, and robbers,
A blot upon our history!”
Thou liest, people-starver:
For freedom and the holy truth
A robber does not rise up,
Nor does he set free a people
Who, dark, unlightened,
Are bound into your chains, does not
Slay with his own hand
An evil son, nor break his living
Heart for his native land!
It is you that are the robbers,
You, the insatiate!
Hungry crows! And by what righteous
Holy law d’you trade
In land, the equal gift to all,
And traffic in misfortuned
Human beings ! Then beware,
For evil will befall you,
Grave evil. Fool your children, fool
Your brother blind and sightless,
Fool yourselves, fool strangers, too,
80 But fool not God Almighty!
For, in the day of jubilation,
Will fall on you ; new fires will blow
From out the Cold Ravine.
Taras Shevchenko's poem
1845, V’yunyshcha, (В’юнище)
Translated by Vera Rich
Source of the original poem in Ukrainian:
Taras Shevchenko. Zibrannia tvoriv: U 6 t. — K., 2003. — Tom 1: Poeziia 1837 - 1847. — stor. 355 - 357; stor. 740 - 742.
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. 81 - 83.
Here you can find Ukrainian text of the Taras Shevchenko's poem:
Original poem in Ukrainian