Shevchenko’s poems

  1. When I am dead, then bury meIn 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 meeside 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



    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




    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

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