A Journal of Translations

Shevchenko Scientific Society

Volume 1. 2004

Two poems


Pavlo Tychyna


Lament of Iaroslavna



Snow. Light flurries falling

on the Prince’s palace.

Around it day and night

walks a tiny voice crying:

—Prince, my dearest Prince,

are you beyond the Danube?

Or on the Don River?

Send me some news of you

or I’ll die.

The Princess listens—only snow.

Only snow, and still more snow,

and beyond the field, beyond the forest

a tiny starving voice:

    My father—war took him!

    My mother—gone, too!

    Who will plow, who will sow?



What a desert.


Again the Princess:

—Your services are needed,

black-browed Wind.

Somewhere the Prince is retreating

with a handful of his men,

—Turn the arrows from him,

send them whence they came.

The Princess listens—but there’s no wind,

only snow and cold,

and beyond the field, beyond the forest

voices can be heard:

It’s you we’ll turn!

    It’s you we’ll send!

    You’ll lie, like your Prince,

    turned to stone.


What a desert.


—Dear Dnipro, dozing dreamer,

you are father to us all.

You at least must rise, since the Prince is gone—

let’s resurrect the kingdom!

A kingdom peaceful, just,

wise in its laws:

where some tend the land,

and others, the crown.

The Princess listens—only laughter,

only laughter rattling

and a noise, rumbling, rumbling

from the huts, from under the eaves

    Maybe the Prince has returned from his campaign?

    Maybe his men have come back?

The Princess listens—the clang of swords and clamor

and voices approaching:

It’s you we’ll resurrect!


What a desert.




Pavlo Tychyna. “Plach Iaroslavny”



The Feeling of a Single Family


Deep and resilient,

strange and foreign to native fords

I possess an iridescent span

arching toward the peoples.


It is so powerful in me

and on so many posts it stands!

With lightning-and-thunder you hit the essence

and you hear: another thunder in the mountains…


And this second thunder—roars further, to others

it roars, it wants and rejoices,

that there is a steel bridge between nations,

that international friendship is working.


And here you are, having resounded,

you become clear in your unfolding

as if you had gulped the good health

from a well in the steppe.


So having drunk, and drunk, and wiped your mouth

—without any warning or conditions

—you see the first in the last

as you approach a foreign language.


You touch the language—and it seems

to you softer than soft.

Even when a word is pronounced differently

—its essence remains ours.


At the beginning, like this: as if a woeful horseshoe

is being bent in your hands

and then suddenly—language! language!

A foreign one—sounds to me like my own.


Because it isn’t just a language, not just sounds

not just the coldness of a dictionary

—in these, work, sweat, and sufferings are heard

—that sense of a single family.


In these, a forest murmurs and a flower blossoms,

the joys of the people ripple.

One can hear one common thread that runs through them,

from antiquity through today.


And so you borrow this language,

this beautiful and rich one—into yours

And all this finds its basis

in the power of the proletariat.




Pavlo Tychyna. “Chuttia iedynoi rodyny”


Translated by Taras Koznarsky with Marta Baziuk


Original publication: Pavlo Tychyna. Zibrannia tvoriv u dvanadtsiaty tomakh [Collected works in twelve volumes], Kyiv: Naukova dumka, 1983–1990. Volume 1, pp. 171–2, Volume 2, pp. 7–9.


Ukrainian Literature, A Journal of Translations

Return to Contents of Volume 1. 2004