Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Taras Shevchenko's final poem

By Aussiegirl

While we await further developments in Ukraine, I wanted to post some poetry of our great bard and spiritual father of our country, Taras Shevchenko, as he is the true spirit of the current revolution. He is revered by all Ukrainians, even to this day. His poetry is known by one and all, even illiterate peasants knew whole reams of his works by heart as so many of them were set to music and became part of the folk song culture sung on a daily basis.

This is what he dreamed of his entire life, and what he devoted his entire body of work to -- that Ukraine should finally breathe free, in its own land, governed by its own good people. I have written a bit about his life earlier in my posts below. This is his final poem. He died in St. Petersburg, Russia, not having been allowed to return to the Ukraine that he loved with all his heart. As he approached death he waited restlessly for the word that the Tsar had finally signed the Proclamation ending feudalism. But sadly, while the law was already declared, the actual signature of the Tsar arrived after his death.

Shevchenko's Last Poem

Should we not then cease, my friend,
My poor dear neighbour, make an end
Of versifying useless rhymes?
Prepare our waggons for the time
When we that longest road must wend?
Into the other world, my friend,
To God, we'll hasten to our rest...
We have grown weary, utter-tired,
A little wisdom we've acquired,
It should suffice! To sleep is best,
Let us now go home to rest...
A home of gladness, you may know!

No, let us not depart, nor go --
It is early still,
We shall yet take walks together,
Sit, and gaze our fill,
Gaze upon the world, my fortune,
See how wide it spreads,
Wide and joyful, it is both
Bright, and of great depth!
We shall yet take walks my star,
On a hill climb high,
And take our rest together..... And
Your sister-stars, meanwhile,
The ageless ones, will start to shine,
Through the heavens glide...
Let us linger then, my sister,
Thou, my holy bride,
And with lips unsullied we shall
Make our prayer to God,
And then set out quietly
On that longest road,
Over Lethe's plumbless depths,
Waters dark and swarthy,
Grant me then thy blessing, friend,
With thy holy glory.
While this and that and all such wear on,
Straight let us go, as the crow flies,
To Aesculapeus for advice,
If he can outwit old Charon
And spinning Fate... And then, as long as
The old sage would change his purpose,
We would create, reclining there,
An epic, soaring everywhere
Above the earth, hexameters
We'd twine, and up the attic stairs
Take them for mice to gnaw. Then we
Would sing prose, yet with harmony
And not haphazard.

Holy friend, Companion to my journey's end,
Before the fire has ceased to glow,
Let us to Charon, rather, go!
Over Lethe's plumbless depths,
Waters dark and swarthy,
Let us sail, let us bear
With us holy glory,
Ageless, young for evermore...
Or -- friend, let it be!
I will do without the glory,
If they grant it me,
There on the banks of Phlegethon,
Or beside the Styx, in heaven,
As if by the broad Dnipro, there
In a grove, a grove primaeval,
A little house I'll build, and make
An orchard all around it growing,
And you'll fly to me in the shades,
There, like a beauty, I'll enthrone you;
Dnipro and Ukraina we
Shall recollect, gay villages
In woodlands, gravehills in the steppes,
And we shall sing right merrily.

February 14-15, 1861
St. Petersburg
Translated by Vera Rich


At 11:03 AM, Blogger Timothy Birdnow said...

Great stuff! Only on Ultima Thule! This kind of thing is what makes UT such a standout site!

At 11:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

it would be AWESOME! if you cold find a translation for "Dream"


Марку Вовчку

На панщині пшеницю жала,
Втомилася; не спочивать
Пішла в снопи, пошкандибала
Івана сина годувать.
Воно сповитеє кричало
У холодочку за снопом.
Розповила, нагодувала,
Попестила; і ніби сном,
Над сином сидя, задрімала.
І сниться ій той син Іван
І уродливий, і багатий,
Не одинокий, а жонатий
На вольній, бачиться, бо й сам
Уже не панський, а на волі;
Та на своїм веселім полі
Свою-таки пшеницю жнуть,
А діточки обід несуть.
І усміхнулася небога,
Проснулася — нема нічого...
На сина глянула, взяла
Його тихенько сповила
Та, щоб дожать до л а н о в о г о,
Ще копу дожинать пішла.

[13 липня 1858,


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At 9:28 AM, Blogger VNTuongLai said...

__ You’re invited to view my latest video “684”__ a collection of some short poems. ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1QQVtsjdiDw )

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