A Celebration of Women Writers

Songs of Ukraina, With Ruthenian Poems. By . London, Paris and Toronto: J. M. Dent and Sons, Ltd., New York: E. P. Dutton and Co., 1916.


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printer's shield with zither on a field of bay leaves



     Kupalo (Fragment) 21
     Song to Vesnianka (Fragment) 23
     Vesnianka–Children's Song 23
     Hyeevka–Song of the Woods 24
     The Wedding of Marusenka (I-XIII) 25
     Song of Departure–A Bride of Bukovina 36
     Unplaiting the Hair 37
     The Bride's Song 38
     The Bride 39
     The Day before the Wedding 40
     Pan Kanovsky–Song of Feudalism 42
     Marusya Bohuslavka (Duma) 44
     Akhmet III. and the Zaporogians 47
     Before Poltava 49
     Time of Tartar Invasion (Fragment) 52
     The Song of Bida 52
     Cossack Marching Song 55
     Charge of the Cossacks 56
     The Young Recruits 57
     Mother and Son 58

     The Captives 60
     Cossack Marching Song 62
     Song of Victory–1648 63
     In Turkish Captivity 65
     Lament for Morozenko 67
     The Death of Dobush 69
     Song of the Oprishki (Outlaws) 74
     The Haidamaky–"Knights of Vengeance" 75
     Song of Karmelūk 76
     Khustina–The Betrothal Kerchief (Shevchenko) 78
     The Penniless Tchumak 81
     Mother and Daughter 83
     Burial of the Soldier 85
     The Drunkard 86
     Song of the Orphan 87
     The Gift of a Ring 89
     "My Field, My Field" (Fragment) 90
     Song of the Cossack 91
     I walked along the River Bank 92
     Orphan Song 93
     Song of Unhappy Woman 93
     A Girl's Song 94
     O Wild Horses 95
     The Daughter of the Witch (Variant) 96
     Song of Vdovà–The Widow 98
     The Two Lovers (Fragment) 99

     The Broken Engagement 99
     The Distant Sweetheart 100
     The Enchantress 101
     The Dying Soldier 102
     The Orphan's Wedding 104
     Moonlight 106
     On the Steppes 107
     In the Garden beside the Water 109
     Unrequited Love 110
     The Oak 110
     Night on the Road 112
     Song of the Dance 113
     Pigeons–The Lovers 114
     Song from an Opera 115
     The Maid to her Laggard Lover 116
     The Tramp at the Inn 116
     Little Petrus 118
     Songs of the Poppy Harvest 119
     Here is a Hill 120
     "Girl o' Mine" (Variant) 123
     Yakimy 124
     Grass rustling in the Breeze 126
     Playing on the Flute was Ivan 128
     The Kalina 130
     As the Cherry glows in the Garden 131
     In the Fields grows the Rye 132
     Mela, farewell 133
     "Kazhut Ludy" 136
     By Dunai's Waters 137
     "I was born in a Fated Hour" 138
     The Song of the Visits 140
     "Wasylki"–Song of the Dance 141
     Kalina–The Cranberry 143

     Thoughts from a Prison (Shevchenko) 147
     Topolia–The Poplar (Shevchenko) 148
     Song from Exile (Rudansky) 156
     The Ring (Vorobkievich) 158
     Where Luck Lies 160
     The Flute 161
     Two Etchings: I. Holy Eve 164
              II. In Church 164
     The Recruit 165
     The Handkerchief 167
     Before Kastenedola 168
     To M.D. 170


UKRAINIAN SONG . . . But do you know what the Ukraine is?

Where in Spring the warm wind breathes, bearing on its wings from "Earey" (Egypt) the myriads of grouse and other birds, and into the hearts of the people the paean of love; where the woods are carpeted with blue "prolisoks" and red "riast"; where Vesnianka, the "Lada" of Spring, with the assistance of vovkoolaks and spirits of the woods, is running through the forest scattering bloom, her song echoing over the whole country; where the sun is so bright and gay; where the willow tree in full blossom looks like a great yellow stack, orchards are white with cherry; where millions of nightingales sing all the night long–where Petrus so truly loves Natalka–

There is the Ukraine.

Where in the Summer the Dnieper is carrying down its broad yellow waters to empty them into the bluish waves of the Black Sea; and upon the steeps of its mountainous right bank, like pyramids, the ancestral grave-hills stand, looking over the endless plains golden with ripening rye; where the little white huts of the villagers hide themselves in the green orchards of scarlet apples, yellow pears, purple prunes, musical with the humming of bees; where, beside a broad road, under a willow tree, a blind lirnik-beggar sits, singing a song of the vanished freedom; where the "grandsons" of that freedom mow the lush grass, with their scythes glistening in the hot sun, just as the sabres of their grandfathers flashed on the same field–

There is the Ukraine.

Where in Autumn in the wood on the peaceful bank of a Dunai the hopvine with its gold and bronze covers the bared branches of ash trees; where on cranberry bushes the red bunches burn in the rays of the Autumn sun like a circlet of rubies; where Marusina walks in the wood picking the berries and calling upon her fated one in her songs; where in the fields, now umber-coloured, the herds of cattle graze; where the poplar rustles sadly with her leaves yet green over a lonesome grave–as a maiden deserted by her lover; where, when the leaves fall, the night-heaven is so darkly blue and the stars so bright–

This is Ukraina.

Where in Winter Witch-Marina with snow white as swansdown covers the fields, making of them an endless white sea; where Frost-Moroze with its magic power changes fog into rime and sleet, transforms the forests into silver coral jungles of the undersea kingdom; where in gayety the people know how to spend the whole winter season, entertained by folk-drama; where hymns to the pagan goddess Lada are heard at Christmas;

Where the red foxes, seeking refuge in tall "ocherets," or bulrushes, and hares lying in utter stillness on the hillocks, shall hear the stamping of horses' hoofs, the baying of hounds and the sudden clamour of the horn–

There is Ukraina.

Where on the summits of the Carpathians old oaks and pines murmur, and the native Hutzul in white embroidered shirt and red breeches plays on his trimbeeta amid his grazing flocks in the mountain meadow; where on a dark night thunder roars and the lightning plays on the white breasts of beech-trees; where Dobush sleeps with his robber Oprishki, in a rocky cave under the Chorna Hora, waiting for the summons to arise once more against the enemies of the Ukraine–

There is the Highland of the Ukrainian.

Where the southern prairies meet the waves of the Black Sea, and grey eagles circle in the heavens watching the numberless herds of sheep; where the Dnieper's cataracts roar, dashing down to the Khortitsa Island, asking it: "Where are the banners of the hetmans and the cannons of old?" There, where a black cloud covers heaven from Lyman, the Mount of the Dnieper, in the semblance of the dragon of the fairy tales–

There are the Zaporogian Steppes.

. . . . . . .

And the ages passed over the Ukraine. . . . "In the beginning" black-haired Scythians came from Ariastan to the Ukraine with their herds–later, the race was crossed with blue-eyed, white-haired Finns; both disappeared and the tall, dark brown-eyed, fair-haired Ukrainian arose, the beneficent gods Yoor and Lada nursing him in his cradle.

Mongolians came from Asia, and Ghingiz-Khan built his pyramids of men's skulls. . . . And on the Steppes, on the Kalka river the brave Russichi barred the way to the Polovets, with scarlet shields, and all fell for the motherland. Still, the Mongolian waves rolling over the Ukrainian rock were unable to devastate Europe. The Khan turned back, civilisation was saved, but the Ukraine was covered with corpses, on whose bones Cossacks arose who again checked the Tartars. There in the Ukraine was Freedom personified by the Zaporogian Cossack, in blue zhupan and red breeches, mounted on his grey horse.

Seven feet deep is the black soil of Ukraina, bringing forth from one seed one hundred and twenty fold. Poles, Turks, and Muscovites began to press forward, eager to grasp the land flowing with milk and honey and bind her as a captive. Long centuries the sabre of the Cossack flashed beheading invaders from all parts of the world. At last it was shivered and broken!


Now naught is left of Ukraina save her songs–but in that song she still lives, engraved in the heart of the people. Let it be sung, and before your eyes you shall resurrect the dead centuries.

The Ukrainians sing their Kolady, Vesnianky, Kupalni–and the ancient gods of the Sun and Thunder are again alive, adversaries of Christianity.

The bride-maidens sing the wedding songs, and ancient days come back when a wild youth gathered a band of the boys of his tribe and raided another village to kidnap a maiden. All her relatives rose to defend her, and sometimes only after a bloody fight did the bridegroom carry his bride safely home. A thousand years passed, and only song was left to show that such barbarous days had ever been.

In the troublous days that followed, when the Cossacks ringed Ukraina with the terrible circle of their sabres, they sang of Freedom; and even now those songs will stir a man's blood and make him long to leap on a horse and gallop over the broad steppes, "swift to the fields of Freedom."

Moscow, Tartary, Lithuania, Poland, Turkey–what neighbours!–the Hetmans, wars and revolutions–at length the fall of Seech, the last stand of Ukrainian freedom–the whole Ukrainian history was put into song by the Kobzars, the rhapsodists, and if the Ukraine has lost her written history it is still preserved in her historical songs.

The period of bondage and feudalism began in 1771. The Cossacks had disappeared, but their place was taken by the avengers of the people's sorrows–Robbers, Haidomaki, Oprishki–the Ukrainian Robin Hoods–and their deeds also are recorded in their songs. The bitter fate of the feudal slave sighs in the song of the Ukrainian woman–before, a free Cossachka, now the slave of her husband, with no rights of her own. Full of self-pity and sorrow are the "Songs of Unhappy Women." The sons of Cossacks became Tchumaks and tramps; they wrote their songs on their broken hearts. . . . But eternal song, that of love, of the nightingale's voice, and the cherry blossom, is the same everywhere–unchangeable–young, charming, immortal!

Italian songs are glorious, but the singing of the Ukrainian is also a precious pearl in the common treasury of mankind. It was born out of the beauty of the Ukraine, and it is beautiful; it was born on the steppes, and as the steppes it is wide; it was born in battles, and it is free; it was born of the tear of a lonesome girl, and it rends the heart; it was born of the thoughts of the Kobzars and its harmonies are pregnant with thoughts–

This is Ukrainian Song.



THE Songs, alas! must lack their native music; of the land which evoked them Mr. Paul Crath has written with a poet's pen. It remains for me just to say a few words about the people who sing the songs and (with one digression) I will quote a few extracts from French and Ukrainian essayists:–

"The Ukrainian is a race purely Slav, gay, chivalrous, made thoughtful by its own steppes–a race of poets, musicians, artists who have fixed for all time their national history in the songs of the people which no centuries of oppression could silence. The singers–the Kobzars–accompany themselves on the kobza while they sing the glories of the Ukraine. All art with them is national, from the building of their tiny huts to the embroideries which adorn their clothes and which are distinguished for their originality all over the East."

"Here is a people, one of the most numerous of Europe and nevertheless one of the least known. They have not even an assured name. They are called Little Russians to distinguish them from the mass of the Russian people–they are called Ukrainian, because they inhabit the frontier between Poland and Russia; one of the branches (in Austrian Galicia) bears the name of Ruthenian. . . . In the nineteenth century this oppressed people revealed to the world the puissance of its artistic gifts. The Ukrainians became the first singers of Europe; the celebrated Russian music is the music of the Ukraine, and it is an Ukrainian, Gogol, who has opened the way to the Russian romancers of genius."–CHARLES SEIGNOBOS, Professor at the Sorbonne.

"In the Russian Ukraine the nobles, descendants of the line of the Cossacks, and the clergy had closely guarded the remembrance of the grandeur, the glory, and the independence of the Ukraine. Living in contact with a people which had preserved its language, songs, and customs, they turned to it to know it better. . . . Collections of popular songs by Maximovich, Dragomanov, Shesnevsky, Zerteleff, etc., began to be made around 1820 and in the second half of the nineteenth century. Soon romantic poets found this field–Kvitka outstripped George Sand and Auerbach. . . . Towards 1840 the great poet Shevchenko (1814-1861) combined by his genius all that was most profound in universal poetry with the genre of the popular poetry of the Ukraine. A great poet and a great citizen, his name is sacred to all Ukrainians."

Mrs. E. L. Voynich has published six lyrics from the mass of this poet's work, all of which is practically unknown to English readers. Many of his writings, however, are to be included in the "Slavonic Classics" now under way.

Immigrants, self-exiled, still sing, putting trivial incidents or dreadful affrays, happenings in their old villages, into legend and song. From several of these living in Winnipeg I obtained old ballads and folk-songs set to minor airs. Russalka on ironing days was a concert in herself! I remember how she told me the song made by a local poet in her old home when a faithless bride was murdered by her conscript lover. Anastasia could not wait three years–but the soldier came to her wedding.

This is the song:–

"From the other side of the hill
A stormy wind is blowing.
Would that I knew what my sweetheart is doing!
O my love, dost thou wish now to be mine?"

"Come then–for we may marry some day. But first of all thou must bring me next Sunday some flowers of Trezilie" (poisonous herb).

"I have a saddle horse in my stable–surely I will mount and ride to get the flowers. Very hard are they to get, very long is the way to the forest where they grow–yet shall I ride swiftly and get them for my love."

"I went to the forest and found the Zilie between two elm trees. I dismounted and began to dig. Zuzula flew near and sang: 'Spare your pains, young soldier, dig no more. Your sweetheart is fooling you, she weds another to-day.'

"Then I rode in haste till I reached the courtyard of her home. Her friends came to meet me, put my horse in the stable, gave me to eat and drink, invited me to the wedding dance.

"I did not come down to dance and drink. I came down to say two words only to my sweetheart. . . . With my right hand I took the hand of the bride; with my left I took my revolver and shot her."

So his sweetheart fell between her dorohynki (bridesmaids), as a star pales between two sunrise clouds.

Some of the poems included in this volume have appeared in Poet Lore (Boston); Poetry (Chicago); The Craftsman (New York); Everyman (Edinburgh); Canada Monthly (London, Ontario); University Magazine (Montreal). To the publishers of these magazines my thanks are due for permission to reproduce the poems in question. I would like to acknowledge gratefully the help given me in translation by MM. Paul Crath, Ivan Petrushevich, and A. Malofie.


    September 1916.




ON Ivan-Kupalo
Ivan was bathing.
And he fell into the water
On the Day of Kupalo.


Hai! On the Day of Ivan-Kupalo
A beautiful maid her fortune sought.
She plucked the flowers to make her garlands–
The Malva-flower and Lewbistok–
She strewed them on the river's breast.

     "Float, my wreath, with the wave's swift flowing,
     Straight to the window of my love–
     Float to the heart of the one I love,
     And bring good fortune with thee!"

The wreath is floating,
Carrying with it
The heart of the maid.
At the bend of the river,
'Tis swamped by the wave–
Kupalo, Kupalo,
No fortune gave!

That night the maiden
Trezilie 3 sought.
In the midnight hour
She dug them up.

She made a brew
In the dead of night,
And ere the dawn
The poison drank.

1 These Pagan songs are very hard to find uncorrupted. In an ancient "Koladka" we find such words as these: "In the forest under the oak-tree seeds are planted; on the seeds youths and maidens are seated and they sing the song Ko Ladi; fire burns under the cattle and an old man sharpens a knife to kill a goat."

"Ko" means "to"; the young people sing a hymn to their beloved goddess Lada. The "old man" is a priest, sacrificing the offering.–(Crath.)

2 Kupalo is the dragon-frost–Muroze, or Koschey; he died, and as snow-water floated down the streams. Symbolically, the Ukrainians, on the day of Ivan-Kupalo, throw his image into the water, and maidens fling garlands on the river and judge of their fortunes by the progress of the wreaths.

The priests, being unable to rid the peasants' minds of "Kupalo's Day," adopted the simple expedient of bracketing him with the Christian St. John (Ivan). The 24th of June (July 7) is the latter's feast-day, but the country folk call it still "The Day of the Bathing of John." In the Ukraine on that day maidens sing special songs, and most engagements are or were celebrated on this feast.

3 Trezilie: poisonous herbs.


Where didst thou spend the winter?

"In the forest, upon the oak,
I was spinning the thread for a shirt."

. . . . . . .

O Spring, the beauty! Vesnianka!
Fly to us with the sun.


And brought Paradise.
All is blooming, everywhere.
Beauty in the meadows lies,
Joy is in the fields and air,
In the woods is Song.

Let us garlands make
On Vesnianka's Day.
Join hands, and in a ring
Interweaving, let us play
Jumping high, the while we sing
   In the woods our Song!

All of beauty, life,
Goes when winter's here.
Bloom will perish, birds grow dumb,
All things lovely disappear.
But the time has not yet come
   To leave off our song.


WHAT did she bring us, the beautiful Spring?
Fair tresses, maiden's beauty.
A maiden's beauty is as dew in summer
Washed in a spring, dried in an oven,
Set on a table, wrapped in paper.

Springtime! And now what is it she brings us?
She brought us Strength, beauty of boys.
Beauty of boys is as dew in summer
Washed in a rain-pond, dried on a fence,
Set on a table, wrapped in rags.



(From various districts. A selection of folk-songs made into a song-cycle, some being fragmentary)


MARUSENKA with her father pleadeth:
"My beloved father, close the gates,
        Close the gates!
Do not let the Duke 4 come nigh–
Let not Wasylenko by."

"Child beloved! Nay–he entreats
That I let him in, let him in.
Like the khmel, like the hop vines
Round the gates, see, he twines!

At the Table, like barwēnok. . . . Who allowed
Him to sit there? Proud–
        Like a falcon,5 proud!"


THE sun as a wheel now mounts the skies:
Marusenka's ensphered by Paradise.

"This Eden, O maiden, who gave to thee?"
"God and my father!" sayeth she.


IN the orchard, in the cherry orchard
We passed but now, young Wasyl stood.
He raised his cap in a lightsome mood.
He raised it and listened; he thought he heard
Song of a bird, song of a bird–
Sweet, sweet song of Zuzula 6 winging.
But see! It was maids weaving wreaths and singing.


(The Meeschani or Master Merchants of old held themselves in high esteem, looking down upon the peasants)

LET us drive–we will drive across the fields;
Drive uphill and down the dales,
Across the sands, across the stones.
They will hear us coming in the vales;
The sands shall murmur, the stones shall prattle,
As 'neath our horses' feet they rattle;
We will be talked of everywhere.
Ah, how the villagers will stare:
"See now, Meeschani driving there!"


THE Kalina 7 grows in a little valley;
It has blossomed with a white, white flower.
      The bridesmaids went to pluck a bough
      But empty-handed come they now.
Its plucking lay not in their power.

      But there went Marusenka,
      There the little Duchess went.
      The Cranberry her blossoms lent.

Home came Marusenka to the bright Room of Welcome.
   Home to the pretty maidens then came she.
Before her little face she set the flowers,
   And she looked at them long and earnestly.

Then of her father asked Marusenka:
   "Like this Kalinonka shall I be?"
"As long as thou stayest by my hearth-side,
   Child, thou'lt be like that Cranberry.

"But when thou goest upon thy journey
   Thy beauty, alas, will fall from thee.
O youthful one, from thy braids so golden
   Thy beauty swiftly away shall flee!"


WREATH, my wreath
   Of Barwēnok, 8 Kryschati! 9
I have woven you, just you alone.
I have not worn you out with wearing;
Saturday afternoon I wore you,
On Sunday all the dear day long,
On Monday just one little hour . . .
I would have you painted, that I might keep you
To dance beneath but one night more;
I would have you gilded, that so enwreathèd
I might walk as in days of yore.


MY Korovai, so heaven-sweet!
Moulded with water from seven wells;
Made out of seven stacks of wheat.

And now our oven with golden shoulders,
Our big oven with silver wings
   The festal loaf shall bake for us,
   The Korovai shall make for us.


To her little brother the Duchess cried:
   "Brother, I pray thee, saddle thy horse!
Haste to the fields that stretch so wide,
   Get for me the horses black,
   Drive them before thee on the way back.
Then let them loose among my flowers.
   Let them browse as around they course,
And what they eat not in my bowers
   The while they do in my garden stay
   On their clutching hoof they may carry away.
"Let the stamping feet on my flowers fall
   That none be left when I am gone;
No joy be there for my bridesmaids all–
   So lonesome Mother won't weep for me:
   'There are her flowers–but where is she!'"


(The enveloping hood or white scarf, the mark of the wife)

THE white Pava 11 is flying–
   See all the waiting ring there,
   The maids who laugh and sing there–
But all the girls it passes,
   Passes by them all
            To fall
On Marusenka only.

"Decide now if thou dost regret,
            Young Marusenka,
What thou hast done! The maids that jest,
Of their long plaits are still possessed.
They will not take thee back now,


"OPEN the gates–the little gates!"
"Who is it calls? Who is it waits?"
"Attendants of the bridegroom we–"
"Ah, well! Now what may your gift be?"

"We offer you our golden bees–"
"Think you so small a thing would please?
Have you naught else for offering?"

"Behold the great gift that we bring:
The maiden, wearing on her brow
The Ruta-wreath,12 comes with us now."


CLANGED the keys on the table;
   Outside the horses neighed.
"O my mother, my dear mother!"
   Cried the little maid.

"'Tis all over, all over!
   No more am I free.
So sad is it to be married!"
   And she wept bitterly.

"Send you your dear daughter
   Far away?" mournèd she.
"But I follow, my husband,
   Lo, I follow thee!

"The man whom I wed now
   A stranger is he.
Yet knoweth my father
   To whom he gives me!"


When the bridal party is going to the bridegroom's house

As it came to the dawning I awoke:
   Swift I looked in the Courtyard grey–
There but now her fine sleigh stayed,
   While the prancing horses neighed
That bore my Marusenka away.

"Am I no more your child?" she said,
   "That from your side you send me so
Just ere the coming of the night?
   Give me a friend in this my plight–
My songster Solowi 13 must go.

"For its sweet piping I would hear
   At peep of day to waken me–
She, my new mother, will not call,
   Instead, she slanders–cruel words all–
'Useless this bride as rotten tree!'"


IN the green garden is fresh-fallen snow;
Horses are galloping to and fro.

A mother follows the hoof-marks deep:
"My Marusenka, where dost thou sleep?

"Help me, O Lord, her steps to trace!
Home I would take her from this place.

"Come, Marusenka, come to me!
If now ill-treated thou mayst be."

She is not in her small white bed.
She sleeps upon the straw instead.

"In what straw, pray, now lieth she?"
She lieth in the rough barley.

"Whose barley pillows now her breast?"
A neighbour's barley gives her rest.


4 The Duke, the husband to be.

"And during the same three days he is called a Duke and she a Dutchess although they be very poor persons."–(Anthony Jenkinson's Letters from Russia, 1557, as given by Hakluyt.)

5 Falcon: metaphor for a lover.

6 Zuzula: the Cuckoo.

7 As the rose in our love songs so in those of Ukraina does the Cranberry or Kalina bloom–the symbol of beauty. Maidens are always being compared to it, and one sings: "Would I were red as a cranberry, for then never was I sad; my lips and cheeks were scarlet, but now they are pale." The German story of the "Juniper Tree" finds its counterpart in the Cranberry-bush of the Ruthenians. A young girl was murdered, so runs the tale, and her relatives placed the Kalina on her grave. From a branch of this her brother made a flute–immediately a voice sighed: "Brother, play not so loud–do not bring sorrow to my heart!"

8 Barwēnok: evergreen marriage flower, periwinkle.

"Barwēnok," so often mentioned in the folk-songs in connection with marriage–sometimes it is placed on graves–is a creeping vine, green among the snows of winter. It is akin in meaning to the Polish "meert" or myrtle.

"Little Barwēnok,
You creep, creep low on the face of the earth,
So, O Barwēnok, may my lover ever stay–as close, as near to me."

On the 24th of June when the passing of Kupalo, God of Frost, was celebrated, the girls of Southern Russia made wreaths of Barwēnok and mallow and threw them into the streams. If a garland were sucked down beneath the waters death was the omen, while if it floated the maiden to whom it belonged would be wed within the year.

9 Kryschati: crossed, in allusion to its appearance.

10 This rich bread, ornamented with braiding and other decorations, is the chief feature at the wedding feast.

11 Pava: pea-hen.

12 Ruta: mint–emblem of virginity.

13 Solo'wi: nightingale.



         DEAR my mother, weep not!
            I shall not take all;
         See, the cows and oxen
            Leave I in the stall.

         I take just black eyebrows,
            Only eyes of blue;
         And upon your table–
            Tears I leave for you.

         And the little pathway
            Where my footsteps fell
         While I brought you water
            Daily from the well.

The Mother speaks
         Pathway, little garden–
            (Ah, she must depart!)
         When I gaze upon you
            Faints my breaking heart.


(Przemysl District)

"UNBRAID her dusky hair
And place a garland there."

The Duchess Marusenka
To the city Horodenka
Trips with her small white feet.

She cuts barwēnok there
To wreathe her dusky hair.

Her mother comes, pursuing,
"My child, what art thou doing?"

"Dear mother, can it be
Thou hast no need for me?

"Thou wilt not let me stay
But strive to force away.

"To give away thy daughter
To him who now has sought her?

"Still very young am I,
Not very wise. Then why . . ."

"I force and give away
What I would not have stay.

"No longer I'm inclined
For thee upon my mind!

"Strangers for thee inquire;
I yield to their desire."

14 "Unmarried Ukrainian girls wear their back hair hanging in a a long single plait, adorned with ribbons, and sometimes covered with flowers. This plait, called kosa, is a maiden's chief ornament, the cherished object of her care. Its unplaiting is the sign of the change which is coming upon her. The married women wear their hair in two plaits wound round the head and covered by a kerchief."


On the threshold of her mother's house, as she is leaving

"MOTHER mine, keep well!–for now we two must part.
Say not that I've taken all, I pray you have no fears.
Lo, upon the table I am leaving–tears!
While outside more tears shall fall from my saddened heart."

"Manisma, go then; leave me quite alone!
Leave the flowers you used to tend–who will watch them grow?
Who will plant more in the spring in a pretty row,
Who will water them when all the buds are blown?"

"Some one else must water them! If I unhappy be
Why then should I just for flowers ever weep or sigh?"
"Who will sweep from off the walk leaves that on them lie?"
"If my lover comes no more the dead leaves he won't see!"


(This is sung by a maiden about to be married in a land far from her parents and native land)

"MARUSYA, Marusya, dost thou not lonesome feel?
And tears from thy blue eyes must surely unbidden steal.

"In a strange new country thy wedding-day sun must rise;
And none of thy kin will be near thee to love, praise or advise.

"Why dost thou not write, therefore, and tell thy mother to sail?
Surely her hands are anxious to cover thy head with a veil."

Then to the wondering maidens the sad Marusya said:
"Verily now I know not if ever I shall be wed:

"I shall never write to my mother and ask her to come to me.
For alas, I have no mother since I dwell in this far country!"


(Old Folk-Song)

THE bride sings to her lover:

      "Thick were the leaves on the lofty tree–
      Why came you not last night to me?
            "I wonder! But, of course,
            Maybe you had no horse,
            Maybe you lost your way;
            Your mother made you stay?"
Her lover replies:

      "I had the horse and the way I knew,
      And my mother kept me not from you.
      "But my youngest sister loves you not. . . .
      She hid my saddle–long I sought–
      "My oldest sister, seeking, found,
      Swift on my horse's back 'twas bound.
      "She whispered, 'Try and get there soon,
      Riding along by the light o' the moon.
      "'In body brave keep a good head,
      Brother o' mine!' she laughing said.
      "'In Sweetheart Land there's much to learn,
      The road has many a curve and turn.
      "'Don't loose your horse, don't go astray;
      Ride! Ere yet dawns your wedding day.'"



BOHUSLAV was Pan Kanovsky's–Dancing there,
Bonderivna–as the Pava 16 she was fair.

Then he saw her, the wild pigeon, full of grace–
And she felt upon her cheek his embrace.

"Pan Kanovsky! You may take e'en my shoes
Off my feet. . . . But I kiss whom I choose!"

Then the good folk of the town whispered low:
"If thou dost not haste away cometh woe!"

Bonderivna's o'er the bridge like the wind:
She has left the village houses far behind.

With drawn sabres two grim soldiers follow fast
Through the market-place . . . poor pigeon! caught at last.

Pan Kanovsky's silver musket pointed straight
At her heart. . . . And she chose then her fate.

"Bonderivna, tall and lovely, live with me,
Or as dung upon the earth you shall be!"

"Rather would I, Pan Kanovsky, fall and die,
Than in arms I loathe, like yours, ever lie!"

As she answered, so he fired–so she fell.
And her father, watching, moaned: "It is well,

"I die with thee, fairest maid of them all!"
And he dashed his white head 'gainst the wall.

Tolled the bells–wailing music cried aloud:
"Bonderivna, earth for aye is thy shroud!"

15 Pan: a noble.

"Pan Kanovsky" is a type of the insolence of power in the days of feudalism in the Ukraine. Then great "pans" or lords had their harems as much as any Turk. This particular landlord who owned the town of Bohuslav is a semi-historical personage. Many incidents centre round him. He is once said to have met an old woman picking up fallen wood in his domain. He ordered her to climb a tree and call "Cuckoo." When she did so, he fired at her and brought her to the ground. Another little habit of his was to stick a needle and thread in the lapel of his coat and ask each peasant whom he met: "Have you needle and thread?" (i.e. the means to mend your clothes). If they said "No," as of course they did, he proceeded to beat them soundly for being improvident creatures.

16 Pava: pea-hen.



ON the Black Sea,
On a white rock,
Stood a stone prison:
Seven hundred Cossacks,
Unfortunate ones,
In this dungeon lay
These thirty years
Seeing not God's world,
Nor the righteous sun upon their eyes:

      ("Almighty God,
      Save us, wretched ones,
      From hard captivity,
      From the Mohammedan faith!
      Send us forth to the bright stars,
      To the peaceful waters,
      To the joyful land,
      The Christian world.
      Hear us, O God, in this our prayer!")

To them the captive maiden,
Marusya Bohuslavka, Daughter of the Priest,
And said unto them:

"Hai, Cossacks!
Ye unfortunate captives,
Tell me–what day is it in Ukraine now?"

"Hai, captive maiden, Marusya Bohuslavka!
How may we know what day it is in Ukraine?
Are we not thirty years in captivity,
Seeing not God's world,
Nor the blessed sun upon our eyes?
Because of this we know not what day it is in Ukraine now."

Then the captive maid, Marusya Bohuslavka,
      Daughter of the Priest,
Said unto the Cossacks:
"Oi, Cossacks, ye unfortunates!
To-day in our land is Easter Even,
And to-morrow is the holy feast day of Easter!"

They bowed their white faces to the ground
And cursed her, Marusya, the captive maid:
"May God give thee, Daughter of the Priest,
Neither fortune nor happy fate
Since thou it was who told us what day had dawned in Ukraine!"

"Oi, Cossacks! ye unfortunate captives,
Swear not, curse not me:
When our Turkish Pasha goes to the Mosque
Then will I come to the dungeon
And I will throw wide the door
And release you all–unfortunate."

On the first day of Easter,
When the Turkish Pasha went to the Mosque,
He gave the keys to the captive maid,
Marusya Bohuslavka, Daughter of the Priest.
She came and freed the captives,
And said unto them,
"Oi, Cossacks!
I say unto you–do what is right;
Flee to the cities of Ukraine.
But, I entreat you, pass not by
The town of Bohuslav.
See my mother and father;
Tell my father to sell not his herds,
To disperse not his wealth,
To heap up no more money
To free me from captivity,
Because I have become a Turk–Mohammedan–
For Turkish comfort, good life–unhappy pleasure!"



(The letter written by the Cossacks to the Sultan is in a museum in Russia)

IN the year 1600, in that God's year,
A letter came from Akhmet
To our Zaporogie:
   "I, Sultan, the son of Mohammed,
   The grandson of the one God,
   The brother of the Crescent
   And even of the Sun;
   Knight strong and great,
   King of Kings,
   Champion of all the world,
   And Tzar of Tzars:
   Tzar of Constantinople,
   Tzar of Macedonia,
   Greece, Serbia, Moldavia;
   Tzar of Babylon, Podolia and Halych,
   And glorious Krimea:
   Tzar of Egypt, Arabia, Jerusalem,
   The Keeper of the Tomb in Jerusalem
   And of your God;
   I am the Sorrow and the Help
   Of all Christian men–
   I say to ye, Cossacks,
   Or expect no good from me."

In the same year the Zaporogians
Read the Letter
And said to their foe, the Sultan:
   "Thou, Sultan, art the devil's son,
   The grandson of Haspid 17 himself,
   And thou, a hornèd chort 18!
   "Thou art but a wretched inn-keeper
   In Constantinople;
   A Macedonian brewer,
   Greek and Moldavian swine,
   And Babylonian blacksmith;
   "Thou oppressor of Serbia and Podolia,
   Krimean parrot, Egyptian swine-herd;
   Owl of Jerusalem!
   No help of Christians art thou, but a fool;
   No protector of our God.
   Thou art not worthy to kiss us anywhere–
   Nor worthy to hold our Zaporogie.
   "We shall fight thee
   By land and sea!
   We do not fear thee,
   Thou son of a dog!
   Such is our answer!
   "We know not what year this may be,
   Because we have no calendars in our Seech–
   Our 'Meassiatz' 19 is now in the heaven;
   This day is the same day as with you.
   Then, Turks, after these words
   Try to take us!"

17 Haspid: Basilisk and Haspid were serpents.

18 Chort: a swamp-devil.

19 Meassiatz: crescent, or month.


When the Swedish King, Charles XII., was defeated by Peter the Great

(Song ascribed to the Hetman Mazeppa 20)

For unhappy Tchyka! 21
Which brought up children
Beside the broad road–

      Ki-hi! Ki-hi!

She fled on high–
Is it time for her
To fall into the sea?

      Ki-hi! Ki-hi!

Ripe is the rye–
The harvest has come–
The Harvesters reap
And her nestlings take.

      Ki-hi! Ki-hi!

The Tchyka flutters
Beating her wings.
Why should she fly,
Why should she cry

      Ki-hi! Ki-hi?

How should she not cry
With wild flutterings?
"My brood is so young,
And a mother am I."

      Ki-hi! Ki-hi!

"O little ones, where
Shall I hide you all?
Must I drown myself,
Be killed in my fall?

      Ki-hi! Ki-hi."

Unhappy Tchyka!
O woeful fate!
Nest by the road
Left desolate.

      Ki-hi! Ki-hi!

And the Harvesters passed
And flung her by,
Flung away Tchyka,
Vain her cry–

      "Ki-hi! Ki-hi!"

Fly to the Meadows, Tchyka, fly!
They took thy brood;
Thy nestlings young
Are the harvesters' food.

20 The Hetman Mazeppa, who was himself a Kobzar, composed this song among others. The story goes that when he was an old man he visited an Ukrainian official, set in high places, named Kotchubei. When he played on the kobza and sang of the ancient glories of the Ukraine, Kotchubei's young daughter, like Desdemona, listened entranced, and finally asked him to marry her. He refused, saying that he was too old, but nevertheless she fled to him, bringing tragedy on her house. Ultimately she went insane, when Mazeppa took refuge with the Turks after the battle of Poltava.

21 "Tchyka-Bird" is the poetical name for the Ukraine. The plaintive cry of this bird–"ki-hi"–makes the hearer feel that the Tchyka, or "Mother," so devoted a parent, is full of woe. She is here compared to unhappy Ukraine.


UKRAINA is sad for that she has no place to dwell in–
The Ordà trampled the little children with their steeds,
By the Horde were the old people carried away,
The rest flung they into slavery.

Who will take Ukraine under its wing
In so evil an hour?
Her land is torn in two,
Her children are broken in four parts,
Her visage is darkened; she is wan
Because of the evil deeds of the Tartars.

22 The Tartars played the same part in Ukrainian history as the Indians in America. They established their kingdom in the Crimea and time after time invaded Ukraine, pillaging it, and selling the inhabitants in Turkish slave markets. Later, they intermarried largely with the Ukrainians.


BIDA, Bida drinks honey-horeevka
Not one day, not two days, not one night only.

The Sultan of Turkey has come to-day–
"What are you doing, young fellow, pray?"

"I drink," said Bida, "not one day only,
Not two days, no–and my night's not lonely."

"If you stop drinking I pledge my oath
My daughter to you shall plight her troth."

"She is not comely enough to see.
Faugh! Your religion is not for me."

"Ho there, my men! Just take this wretch,
Put a hook in his ribs and give him a stretch."

O not one day, not two days only,
Not one night hangeth Bida lonely.

The Doub-tree seeth the Sultan come:
"Ha, Bida, art thou then quite dumb?"

"Nay," said the rogue, "I see two trees,
Two pigeons perching at their ease.

"Your bow and arrow lend," quoth he,
"And you shall sup right daintily."

The weapon Bida's right hand nears–
The Sultan's pierced between the ears.

Freed, he has shot the Sultan's wife,
Nor will he spare the daughter's life.

"This was a king once," Bida cries,
"But see how stiff and cold it lies!

"Well, as for me, I surely think
That I deserve another drink."

Bida, Bida drinks honey-horeevka
Not one day, not two days, not one night only.

23 Many legends centre around the Cossack Bida (or Bighda), an Ukrainian Prince, whose real name was Dmitro Vishnivetzki. He it was who established "Seech"–the ancient stronghold of the Cossacks. He became famous for his raids on the Turks. The verses above given were written of one of his most noted exploits, if tradition is to be believed. He was captured by the Turks. Told that he was to marry the Sultan's daughter he emphatically declined the honour, saying that her religion was distasteful to him. Now on the walls of Constantinople there were huge iron hooks and the Sultan commanded his soldiers to hang Bida from these by the ribs. By a ruse his servant came near him and managed to bring him a bow and arrow, as directed. When the Sultan came to see if he had had a change of heart the Prince raised his weapon and killed the Sultan, his wife, and his daughter.



(Sixteenth Century)

COSSACKS whistled! They were marching,
Marching far away at midnight . . .
Dark-brown eyes of Marusenka
They will soon be blind from weeping.

"Weep not, weep not, Marusenka,
Be not sad–rise from thy sorrow!
Pray the good God for thy dearest."

Rose the moon in windless silence–
To the Cossack spake his mother,
Her farewell with tears was given:
"Go, then, go, my little son, now!
Go, but see thou'rt not long absent.
Come back when four weeks are over."

"Gladly would I, O my Mother,
Come before a month is over,
But . . . my horse, my black horse splendid
Stumbled with me at our gateway!
Oi! God knows–all's in His willing–
Whether I return home safely,
Or on bloody field should lay me.
Time of my return God knoweth,
Only He–As thine own daughter
Keep my Marusenka by thee. . . .
Hai! Don't weep and don't be sorry:
Under me my horse is dancing,
Prancing and curvetting proudly,
Home ere long you may expect me!"


HAI! roll up! Eagles brave,
   To protect "the Tchighka" (Tchyka 24)
      And gain glory newly.
Nobles all!
Or we fall.
      Twice we die not, truly–
Hai! Take arms. On we go!

From our rifles we shall shout,
   We shall roar from cannon,
      With our sabres clashing–
Nobles all,
Or we fall!
      'Gainst our foemen dashing.
Hai! Take arms. On we go!

24 Tchyka-bird: the poetical name of Ukraina.


ALONG the hills lies the snow,
But the streams they melt and flow;
By the road the poppies blow–
Poppies? Nay, scarlet though they glow
      These are no flowers–the young recruits!
         They are the young recruits!

   To Krym, to Krym they ride,
   The soldiers, side by side–
   And over the country wide
   Sounds the beat of the horse's stride.

One calls to her soldier son:
"Return, O careless one!
Of scrubbing wilt have none?
Let me wash thy head–then run!"

"Nay, mother, wash thine own,
Or make my sister groan.
Leave thou thy son alone!
Too swift the time has flown.

"My head the fine spring rain
Will soon wash clean again,
And stout thorns will be fain
To comb what rough has lain.

"The sun will make it dry,
Wind-parted it will lie–
So, mother mine, good-bye!"
         . . . . . .
He could not hear her cry.


(This song was composed before 1648)

ALL the oak forest is murmuring, murmuring:
Thick veils of fog o'er the fields and wide meadows cling.

   "Go away, my son, from me–
   May the raiding Turk take thee!"
   "Mother, well the Sultan knows
   Thy brave son. (This witness shows.)
   "For he pays me from the mine
   Tribute–gold and silver fine!"
   "Go away, my son, from me–
   May Litvà 25 soon capture thee!"
   "Litvà knows me too–I feed
   From her tribute, wine and mead."
   "Go away, my son, from me,
   May the Tartars soon take thee!"
   "Those wild Hordes take, in much fear,
   Other roads when I draw near!"
   "Go away, my son, from me–
   Moscow! Let the Tzar take thee!"
   "But the Tzar likes me so well,
   With him I've been asked to dwell!"
   "Ah, my son, come home instead.
   Let me, dear one, wash thy head."
   "Nay, my mother, nay. With rain
   Washing it I'll not complain.
   "Winds will dry my dripping hair;
   Teren-bush 26 will comb it fair."

All the deebrova 27 is murmuring, murmuring–
Leaden clouds over heaven lowering masses fling.

"Farewell!" the sisters cry–for he must go with speed.
She who is eldest born leads out his splendid steed.

And then the second-born armour brings out to him:
Youngest of all entreats–asks with her eyes tear-dim:

"When, O my brother dear, comest thou back to us?"
"Ah, sister! Of the sand take thou a handful thus. . . .

"Sow on a rock. Each dawn water it with thy tears.
That day the sand springs up–thy brother lost appears!"

25 Litvà: Lithuania.

26 Teren-bush: thorn.

27 Deebrova : oak forest.


Cuckoo! calls the Cuckoo. . . .

In the dawn, in the dawn the young Cossacks are crying,
Far away from their loves, in prison lying,
The dungeon's dark, their hope is gone,
But the Cuckoo calls, in the dawn, in the dawn!

Blows the wind, blows the wind–From the sea were it blowing
'Twould bear us away beyond all knowing!
Our heavy chains we'd leave behind
If over the sea should come the wind.

O the sun! O the sun in Ukraine shining!
Take us to where our loves are pining. . . .
The Cossacks have their dance begun,
The dance of joy, in the sun, in the sun.

Blue sea! On the sea with the wind they're dancing–
Our brothers surely are advancing
From prison chains the sad to free.
O swiftly come, o'er the sea, o'er the sea!

Cuckoo, calls the Cuckoo. . . .

In the dawn, in the dawn the Sultan sleeping
Is wakened by the sound of weeping–
"Bind stronger chains their limbs upon
That none may flee, in the dawn, in the dawn!"



THE Harvesters are reaping on the hill-side,
   And in the valley where the grass is green
   The Cossacks leap astride their horses lean.

That gallant hetman, Doroshonko,
   Is leading all his troop with right good-will–
   Over at last the weary days of drill!

And see that captain stationed in the centre,
   His steed is prancing, pawing up the ground . . .
   Brave Sahaidachni, at the rear, looks round.

In fair exchange for pipe and for tobacco
   He's said adieu to Priska, his good wife–
   "Such a mistake! The greatest of my life!"

So is he thinking when he hears one calling:
   "Come back, come back and take your wife once more;
   My pipe and my tobacco please restore!"

"Ah, ha!" he shouts, "a wife I'll not be needing–
   But your carved pipe is handy on the road.
   What a fine thing you have on me bestowed!

"Hai! Who goes there? Pass, friend–and on we're faring;
   With flint and steel I'll get a puff or two,
   So then–don't worry–and good-bye to you."


When the Cossacks under Khmelnitzky expelled the Poles from the Ukraine

HAI, all ye good people! list what I tell ye,
   What's done in Ukraina's plain–
There under Dashiev, across the Soroka,
   What numbers of Poles now lie slain.

Hai, Perebiynees! But seven hundred
   Cossacks he asked for that day.
Then he with sabres smote the Poles' heads off–
   The rest swept the river away.

Drink ye swamp water, Oi! all ye Poles now–
   Quench thirst at each rain-pond ye see. . . .
And once ye were drinking, in our Ukraina,
   Wine and sweet mead flowing free!

Each Polish "Pan" is lost now in wonder;
   "What do these brave Cossacks eat?
Verily, look ye, they live just on pike-flesh,
   Solamàkha 28 with water their meat."

Look now, ye Poles, whom our Hetman Khmelnitzky
   Fought on the grim "Yellow Sands,"
Of all your army fighting young Cossacks
   Not one has escaped from our hands.

See, Pole! A Cossack is dancing, is dancing
   Upon a grey horse after thee!
When he stands with his musket thy heart sinks in anguish
   In great fear of death thou dost flee.

We own the whole land e'en as far as Sluch river,
   Kostiana! As far as thy Hill–
O rude and uncourteous! Poles caused our revolting
   So mourn they their lost Ukraine still.

As a thunder-cloud brooding on Vistula's river
   The Poles lie, expelled from Ukraine.
As long as we live they shall no more leave Poland,
   They shall not come nigh us again.

Hai! All ye young Cossacks! Leap up now with shouting–
   Akimbo our arms let us place.
We threw all the Poles across Vistula's waters–
   And here they won't dare show their face!

28 Solamàkha: flour mixed with water. Cossacks on the march "travelled light" and were content, nay proud, of the meagre fare mentioned.


ON the blue sea waves are roaring,
   Mountain high they tower.
Crying in their Turkish dungeon
   Wretched Cossacks cower.

"Why, O gracious God, this torture?
   Two years now we lie here;
With the chains our hands are heavy–
   Wilt Thou let us die here?

"Wings of Ukraina's Eaglets,
   Yanichars 29 cut, throwing
In the grave the living victims,
   All their sorrow knowing.

"Hai! Ye youthful Zaporogians, 30
   Have ye not arisen?
Sons of Freedom, ever glorious,
   Rescue us from prison!"

29 Yanichars: slaves of the Turks.

30 Zaporogians: at the mouth of the Dnieper river was an island called Hortitsa; Count Dmitro Vishnivetzki (Baida) placed there two thousand Cossacks in a fortress to protect Ukraina from the invasion of the Tartars. Then this fortress–called "Seech"–became the refuge of every kind of outlaw from Poland and the Ukraine. Later a semi-monastic order of Knights was organised to fight unbelievers. Time passed, and "Seech" became a military high school for Eastern Europe. The Cossacks fought to keep the Tartars in the Crimea and made raids on Turkey, with Constantinople as special objective. When the Town Cossacks revolted against Poland, the Zaporogian Cossacks joined them and their stronghold became the refuge of Ukrainian democracy. In 1775 Seech was destroyed by Catherine II.


(This Cossack song of the seventeenth century is sung to a mournful air which makes a splendid funeral march. Morozenko was an Ukrainian Governor of a province killed in war with the Tartars.)

TRENCHES along the foot of the mountain–
They took Morozenko on Sunday morning.
The Tartars nor slashed him, nor pierced him with spears;
They tore out the heart from the white, white breast,
And they led him to Savour-Mohyla's height:
"Look thou, O son of the foe, down there!
Look on thine Ukraine stretching far!"
They set him down on the yellow sands,
And they took off from him a red, red shirt. 31

      Oi, Moroze, Morozenko!
      Thou glorious Cossack.
      All Ukraine laments thee,
      O brave Morozenko!
      Much more thy bold army,
      O glorious Cossack!

               . . . . . .

On the way to the town Morozikha wept–
Sore wept Morozikha for her son.

"Don't cry, Morozikha, don't be sad.
Come with us Cossacks to drink wine-mead."

"Drink your good health, if drink you would,
But around my head misfortune flies.
Drink your good health, if drink you may. . . .
Oi, where does he fight, my son, my son!
Does he fight with the Tartars, one by one?"

"Don't cry, Morozikha, don't be sad;
Come with us Cossacks to look on. . . .
For see! A horse walks behind a wagon,
A bloody wagon it walks behind.
It carries your glorious Moroze,
The white flesh cut, the brave head broken,
The face is covered with red kitayka. 32 . . ."

      Oi, Moroze, Morozenko!
      Thou glorious Cossack–
      All Ukraine shall weep
      And mourn for thee.

31 i.e. his skin.

32 kerchief.




ALONG the edges of the wooded height
Walks young Dobush;
Lame in one leg, he on his topir 34 leans
And calls his lads:

"O, ye Legini, 35 O, my boys!
We'll council hold
Whom next are we to rob?
Kooty we must not miss,
Nor overlook Kossiev. 36
Now sleep, my boys,
Because we rise at dawn;
Dress in a trice, skin postoli 37 put on,
Povoloki 38 of silk. . . .

"Now run, boys–quick!
Snow covers all the paths;
To Dzveenka's house go first,
Where we'll see Stefan's wife."

"Oi, Dobush! Nay, my lord,
Sure mischief will befall."

"Don't trouble about me;
Load your good musket with
A double charge–stand by the gate–
I'll to the window go
To see if she still sleeps."

"My heart, dost thou sleep,
Dost thou hear?
Dost thou wish to receive Dobush?"

"I am not asleep. No. I hear
Each word that you say to me.
I'm working that I may sup–
Stefan is not at home. . . .
The supper's not ready yet,
But 'twill be a splendid one,
And a wonder for all the world."

"Dost thou sleep, my heart,
Dost thou hear?
Wilt receive Dobush for the night?"

"I sleep not–I hear every word–
I will not let the robber in."

"Wilt thou open the door, I say?
Dost tell me to storm it then?"

"I give no command to storm.
But–open it? No, not I."

"Let me into the hut–thou fool!
Ere I break open the door."

"My door is too strong for you–
My locks are of trusty steel."

"Thy locks will not help thee much
When to them my shoulder I set."

"The strength of full seven more years
You'll need ere you burst my door."

Dobush, Dobush pressed hard–
The locks fell in a heap,
And Dobush opened the door,
Just a little opened the door. . . .

And then Dzveenka fired
From the attic where he hid,
He aimed at the heart of Dobush.

Not in the heart fell the blow;
Through shoulders the bright blood burst.

"Dog-catcher! You! Dzveenchuk!
You have eaten me up for her."

"Why did you woo her? Why
Did you say you were Dobush?
Why tell her all the truth?
Knew you not woman's truth
Is fast-running water's foam?"

The Oprishki came to the hut
But they found Dzveenka was flown.

"Oi! Dobush, our good lord,
Why killed you not the wife?"

"How could I kill her, say,
If I loved her so much?"

"Oi, Dobush, our great lord!
Misfortune's surely here.
Treachery ne'er before
To your Legini came,
But now there's treachery."

"Legini, Oi! my boys,
Lay me on your topirs,
Carry me down in the Chorna-Hora,
Where the Black Mountains be,
Then cut my body up as fine as poppy seed.
Let not the Germans mock,
Or quarter my body.

"Divide among yourselves the treasure that was ours–
Then singly go away.
But not to rob–
Not to shed human blood;
Blood is not water, mind,
Not meant to be poured down!"

But then the Germans came,
And Dzveenka led them on.

"Oi, Oi, Dobush, our lord,
What woeful fate is ours!
Where shall we winter spend,
Where all the summer days?"

"In Stanislav, my boys,
Yea, at the market-place!
Tortured, while, bound in irons,
Germans shall tear your flesh,
And there you'll sleep for aye."

33 In the Ukraine at the end of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth century the Oprishki, or outlaws of the Carpathians, and the robbers of the Ukraine, were so famed that in several instances they have become legendary heroes. History gives us three great outlaws: In the Poltava Government, Harkusha; in Kiev, Karmeluk; and in the Carpathians, where the tongue of the Hutzuls was spoken, Alexa Dobush. These brigands were like our English Robin Hood, robbing only the rich and dividing the spoil among the poor.

34 Topeer: Hutzul weapon, stick with iron barb, a battle-axe.

35 Legini: young, unmarried men.

36 Kooty and Kossiev: neighbouring towns in the Carpathians.

37 Postoli: moccasins.

38 Povoloki: ribbons to wind round the legs.


HAI, Brethren, Oprishki–give me more horeevka! 40
   On the camp-fire now heap on more wood.
If you tuned then my throat to the sound of Sopeevka, 41
   I'd sing for as long as I could.

We are safe just as long as the green grass is growing–
   If the forest of leaves be not bare,
If behind the thick bush and green pine we are going,
   Even Chorts 42 could not find us hid there.

As the heaven for birds, so for us are the hollows,
   The caves in Carpathian crests.
We sleep till the stars, till our own shadow follows,
   And then we creep out of our nests.

Tobacco we bring from far Hungary's borders
   (Fleet horsemen their chase may give o'er),
The Jew merchant clothing shall give at our orders,
   Or else he'll be nailed to his door.

Be joyful, my brothers, each day that is ours,
   No life such as this can last long.
When snow falls our heads will hang down like the flowers;
   No more shall be heard our glad song.

For Austrian soldiers, when first snow is falling,
   In uniforms white will appear. . . .
Kolomea! 43 Thy bells as of old may be calling–
   Their chiming we never shall hear.

39 Oprishki: outlaws in the Carpathians.

40 Horeevka: whisky.

41 Sopeevka: a fife.

42 Chorts: little devils.

43 Kolomea: the capital of the county of Pocootie, in Galicia, where outlaws were executed.


"HAIDAMAKY" they call us, unrelenting and stern,
With the wrongs of our nation for vengeance we burn.

Our forebears were tortured; our grandsons shall be
Unless we will show them how men may be free.

Haidamaky they call us, forever the same,
And we lay down our lives, caring nothing for fame.

For the time long has passed when the yoke pressed us sore:
If a hundred shall fall there are yet thousands more.

Out of misery's chains the trampled slaves rise,
And to Freedom's bright flag they will lift dazzled eyes.

Truth and courage for oath, and our Vengeance for breath–
Haidamaky they call us, men who fear not their death.


(Written by himself)

FROM Siberia I return–
With no fortune I am come.
Not in chains, but yet not free.
Wife and children may be mine,
But their faces I can't see.
When I think upon their fate
Then I weep most bitterly.

Good lads have I gathered round
(What concerns it any one?),
By the road lie on the ground!
Riders, when will ye pass by?
Tedious it is to wait–
No abode, no hut have I.
The police won't make me wince
Though Assessors scan each nook,
Hunt in every likely den.
They themselves have killed more men
Than your Karmelūk has sins!

"Robber!" so good folk may cry–
"Murderer!" But I've killed none.
For, look ye, I have a soul.
I may take from rich my toll
(And I'll do it too, be sure!),
Free from sin is Karmelūk
For he gives it to the poor.

Rising o'er Siberia
Shines the sun. Keep watch you must.
Yet in me put all your trust.
Rest your hopes on Karmelūk!




ON Sunday she did not dance–
She earned the money for her skeins of silk
With which she embroidered her kerchief.
And while she stitched she sang:

   "My kerchief, embroidered, stitched, and scalloped!
   I shall present thee and my lover shall kiss me.
   O Khustina, bright with my painting.
   I am unplaiting my hair, 45 I walk with my lover–
      (O my Fate! My Mother!)
   The people will wonder in the morning
   That an orphan should give this kerchief–
   Fine-broidered and painted kerchief."

So worked she at her stitching, and gazed down the road
To listen for the bellowing of the curved-horned oxen,
To see if her Tchumak comes homeward.

. . . . .

The Tchumak is coming from beyond Lyman,
With another's possessions, with no luck of his own.
He drives another man's oxen; he sings as he drives:

   "O my fate, my fortune,
   Why is it not like that of others?
   Do I drink and dance?
   Have I not got strength?
   Know I not the roads of the steppes
   That lead to thee?
   Do I not offer thee my gifts,
   (For I have gifts)–my brown eyes–
   My young strength, bought by the rich?
   . . . Perchance they have mated my sweetheart to another.
   Teach me, O Fortune, how to forget,
   How to drown my grief in drink and song."

And as he journeyed over the steppes, lonesome, unhappy, he wept–
And out on the steppes, on a grave, a grey owl hooted.

The Tchumaki, 46 greatly troubled, entreated:
"Bless us, Ataman, that we may reach the village,
For we would bring our comrade to the village
That there he may confess ere death; be shriven."
They confessed; heard mass, consulted fortune-tellers.
But it availed not; so with him, unholpen,
They moved along the road. Was it his burden,
The constant burden of his anxious love
(Or victim he of some one's evil spell?),
That so they brought him from the Don
Home on a waggon?

God he besought
At least to see his sweetheart. But not so–
He pleaded not enough. . . . They buried him . . .
And none will mourn him, buried far away;
They placed a cross upon the orphan's grave
And journeyed on.

As the grass withers, as the leaf falls on the stream,
Is borne to distance dim,
The Cossack left this world, and took with him
All that he had.

Where is the kerchief, silken-wrought?
The merry girl-child, where?
The wind a kerchief waves
On the new cross.
A maiden in a nunnery
Unbinds her hair.

44 When a girl becomes engaged she binds on the head of her lover a handkerchief embroidered in gay colours by her own hands.

45 Unplaiting the hair: custom of a bride-to-be.

46 Tchumaki: road merchants, traders in other lands.


IN the market-place of Kiev
A young Tchumak drank and drank:
Oxen, wagons, yokes and yoke-sticks,
All his wealth in drink he sank,
In the market-place of Kiev.

And at sundown he awoke–
How he peered into his purse!
All his pockets he turned out,
With full many a muttered curse,
In the market-place of Kiev.

Not a penny to be found!
For his revelling was naught.
"Pour, Shinkarka, 47 half a quart!"
But she laughs at such a thought
Scorns to wait on such as he.

Then he takes his zhupan 48 off.
"Oh, Shinkarka, even pour
Just a quarter of a quart!"
"To coat add four zloty 49 more–
Then there's drink for revelling!"

To "mohyla" 50 sad he went,
Gazed adown the valley green:
Oxen, wagons–wagered, spent–
Yokes and yoke-sticks, all his wealth
Lost in market-place of Kiev!

"Oi, I'm off to distant lands!
To Moldavia 51 go I–
I'll be slaving seven years,
Then more oxen I shall buy,
And I'll be Tchumak again!"

47 Shinkarka: wife of the landlord.

48 Zhupan: overcoat.

49 Zloty: 7 1/2 cents.

50 Mohyla: grave-hill.

51 Moldavia: Roumania.



"O you thought, my mother, you would never be rid of me! There will come a day, a Sunday, when you will wish for me; you will weep long and sore–'O where now is my daughter?'"

The Daughter–

IF thou lovest me, Sweetheart,
Let me go to the cherry orchard–
No ill shall befall thee–I will but pluck the povna rozha. 52

To-morrow I go to the quiet dunai 53 to wash the clothes; then will I throw the blossom on the water.

Float, float, my rozha, as high as the banks of the river are high! Float, my rozha, to my mother! When she comes to the river to draw water she will know that the flower was borne to her from her daughter's hand.

The Mother–

Thy rozha has withered on the stream; wast thou in like ill case for these three years?

The Daughter–

I was not sick, my mother, not a year, not an hour. . . . You chose for me a bad husband.

Did I not carry water for you? Why did you not beg of God to give me a good husband?

Did I not wash the clothes for you, O my mother?

Why did you curse me in this way?

The Mother–

Nay, child, I cursed thee not. But on a day–and only once–I said: "I hope she may never marry!"

The Daughter–

And was not that wish ill enough–that I should never be married? You could not have wished me worse just then.

For–when I was young–I knew not what it meant–the marrying of your daughter.

52 Povna rozha: the mallow. On the Day of Kupalo, the old Pagan god of the Ukraine, maidens thread the mallow flowers together and make a wreath which they throw on the water. If it floats the damsel will be married; if it stops, she will not be wed that year; if swept under by the current, she will herself die.

53 Dunai: river. The age of the song can be determined. as in many other cases, by the use of this word.


NEAR the pebbly shores grows a green elm-tree.
Under the tree a soldier is dying.
Comes a young Captain bearing a gold handkerchief: he weeps with fine, fine tears.
   "O Captain, my Captain, weep not!
   Send word to my friends to come and build me a house."

With rifles shining like silver his comrades came.
They wept over his head with fine tears.

   "Weep not; O ye, my dear friends; tell my father and mother to hasten here from the country to bury me."

   "Where, O my son, shall we dig thy grave?"

   "Nay, neither of you shall bury me; the young soldiers only shall bear me there."

So they bore him, leading his horse before him; behind the coffin his mother walked, weeping.

Even more wept his sweetheart. The tears of his mother would not make him rise from the dead; but his sweetheart was crying and wringing her hands.

For never before had a soldier been her lover:
And never again would a soldier be one.


THE Red Cranberry has withered
Over the well. . . .
Woe to me, my mother,
With a drunkard to live!
A drunkard drinks day and night;
He does not work.
When he comes home from the Inn,
Though I be young, young,
Yet he strikes me!

I open the casement
As my mother comes.
She asks of my little ones:
"Is the drunkard home?"

Carefully, softly
Enter, my mother!
My drunkard sleeps,
Sleeps in the barn–
See thou wake him not!

"May he sleep!
May he never wake!
That he on thy little head
Bring no more grief."

"Oi, my mother!
Abuse not my drunkard.
Tiny are my children–
Without him
Would it not be worse?"


I WILL go into the field and talk to the dew; and together with the dew I will bemoan our unlucky fate.

I will climb a hill and fall into thought: I was left an orphan; I have no friends.

In my tiny garden grows a lovely lily. . . . And what is that to me, if I am still young, if I am still an orphan?

As the soaking hemp rots in the water, so lives an orphan in this world.


O my Mother dear, my grey bird, you have raised me, fed me for these bitter woes!

O my Mother, my golden Mother, my grey dove!

You left me all alone to minister to others' wants.

What have I done to you, my Mother dear, that you have so deserted me?

If you had drowned me in my bath, my Mother,

I would not have exchanged my fate with any earthly king's.


How pretty are the flowers that bloom! How beautiful the children who have a mother!

Other people's children are like dolls: and I am an orphan.

Other people's children have mothers: and my Mother is with God.


O, my Mother died! My Mother–

O unhappy fortune! She will never speak,

She will never ask me, "What are you doing, my daughter?"

When I begin to think of my dear Mother

Sorrow so heavy overtakes me that I can hardly bear it.


There is no flower in this world prettier than the Cranberry:

No one is so lovely as a mother to a child.

My Mother is now in the grave–there is her grave–

O why was I born–I, so unlucky in this world?


HE gave me a ring, and I laughed and asked him:
"What does this mean?" "A gift," he answered.
I went with another upon the morrow,
And in the evening he was so angry.
"You wore my ring," he said, reproachful,
"The ring means marriage–you're pledged to me!"

I flung my ring at the foolish creature
And I said: "Now hasten out of my sight.
I never saw such a stupid person,
Who says one thing and means another!"



(Fragment of an old song)

O MY field, my field!
Ploughed with bones,
Harrowed with my breast,
Watered with blood
From the heart, from the bosom!
Tell me, my field,
When will better days be?

My field, O my field!
By my grandfather won,
Why dost thou not give
Me the means of life?
Bitter toil! With my own blood stained,
My heart's blood is there.
How bitter for me, my field,
To look on thee!


HEAVILY hangs the rye
Bent to the trampled ground;
While brave men fighting die
Through blood the horses bound.

Under the white birch-tree
A Cossack bold is slain–
They lift him tenderly
Into the ruined grain.

Some one has borne him there,
Some one has put in place
A scarlet cloth, 54 with prayer,
Over the up-turned face.

Softly a girl has come.
Dove-like she looks–all grey–
Stares at the soldier dumb
And, crying, goes away.

Then, swift, another maid
–Ah, how unlike she is!–
With grief and passion swayed
Gives him her farewell kiss.

The third one does not cry,
Caresses none has she;
"Three girls thy love flung by,
Death rightly came to thee!"

54 It is the custom of Ukraina to cover its dead soldiers with a red silk kerchief.


I WALKED along the river bank,
My horse paced by my side.
"Marry me, Cossack!" a gay voice cried.

"Marry me, or wed me not,
But let me hear you say
You hope you may wed me some fine day!"

"O were you richer, little one,
I'd take you by the hand,
Before my stern father we two should stand."

"O were I rich, my Cossack,
Do you know what I would do?
I'd tramp on your father, I'd tramp on you!"

I walked along the river bank. . . .
Don't sigh, my little maid,
In your garden barwēnok will not fade.

If this one leaves you, do not fret,
Another will come soon.
Fresh are your roses–it's only June.


As a cloud, O Lord, let me float!
   Over the village let me go.
And into the village, like fine rain
   Let me fall, far below.
How my child is dressed I fain would see;
   She sits in the Orphan's seat, I know;
But she's robed as a lady of high degree!


OVER my gate a pigeon's wings!
   Over my gate they flew–
But my father gave me not to him,
   The one I loved so true.

To Voyvoda, a Captain bold,
   My father married me:
He carried me to distant lands
   Where none of my own kin be.

O I will pluck the Malva flower
   And throw it on the stream–
Now float thou far, thou Malva flower,
   To her of whom I dream!

The Malva blossom floated on
   And circling on was swept. . . .
Drawing the water from the stream
   My mother saw–and wept.

"Oi! Daughter mine! Fear's on my heart;
   Ill liest thou on thy bed?
For lo! thy lovely Malva flower
   Is withered all and dead."

Not one day was I lying sick,
   Not one day, not one hour–
Unfaithful was the man I wed,
   And I am in his power.


WHAT is the use of my black eyebrow,
What is the use of my black eyes?
My youth is nothing, my happiness flies.

For every day my youth is going:
Lustreless eyes have come through tears,
Faded my eyebrow's curve appears.

O maidens all, I am sick at heart now–
Like a bird that dies for lack of air
Why should I for my beauty care?


O WILD horses–where are ye running over the steppes?
Where is she–the maid with the lovers three?
Where is that wheat which bloomed with a white flower?
Where is the maiden with beauty of black eyebrows?
   Where is the wheat–Can I not reap it?
   Where is the damsel–Can I not wed her?

. . . . . . .

"I had not come her gates within,
   Nor sat me down her bread to break–
I stood without on the threshold bare:
   She had poison ready in wheaten cake."

. . . . . . .

On a Thursday morn the Soldier came:
   On the Thursday noon the youth lay dead.
On the Friday to the open grave
   Before his bier his horse they led.

Behind his corse his mother wept. . . .
   The maiden's mother thus did chide:
"O daughter mine! What hast thou done?
   Was it through thee thy lover died?"

"My mother dear, what was to do?
   My heart could find no other way.
My soldier love had sweethearts two–
   So lies he cold upon this day.

"I would not have him–so he died–
   I would not have him–he sleeps sound.
Nor shall she ever in this world
   Hold him who lies in the damp ground."


(Song in a play–"Go not to the Wechernyci, 55 Hritz ")

"Go not, I pray thee, to the dance, Hritz!
For there await thee daughters of the witch.

"They burn the straw beneath the bubbling roots–
They'll take your life just when their wish it suits.

"That one with black, black eyes–most potent witch is she;
She knows all roots that grow by river or by tree.

"She knows what each distils–and she loves you!
With envious love she watches what you do."

   Sunday morn she dug the roots;
   Monday, cleaned them; Tuesday, brewed;
   Wednesday from her cup Hritz
   Drank; on Thursday he lay dead;
   Friday comrades buried him.
   Greatly mourned the maidens all;
   Comrades, much lamenting, cursed
   Her who brought about his death:
   "Hritz, was never one like thee!
   May the devil take the witch!"

On Saturday the old witch beat full sore
Her wicked daughter, crying o'er and o'er,

"Why did you poison him? Did you not know
What all the roots could tell you? Ere cockcrow
That he must die?" "O mother, speak not so;

"There are no scales for sorrow–why did he
Make love to her, saying he loved but me?
For this, O Hritz, your just reward I gave–
A dark house of four planks–a grave, a grave!"

55 Wechernyci: evening party or assembly.


O'ER the Steppes rode he, the Cossack,
   Vdovà was dwelling there–
"Dobry den! Good day, poor widow,
   Is all well? How dost thou fare?

"I but ask a drink of water–
   Widow, with thy husband fled,
Wilt thou give it for the asking?" . . .
   "How knew'st thou that he was dead?"

"By thy garden I could tell it–
   Sad and lonesome is the sight.
And thy heart is ever grieving:
   Tell me then–am I not right?

"In the garden of the widow
   Coreopsis blossoms not,
Never blooms a single flower
   In so desolate a spot."

         (In the garden of the widow,
            Yea, in truth the wild weeds grow.
         But her children they are tended,
            And a mother's love they know.)

"The rain, O the rain
On her unploughed field!
What should be the yield?

Who is fain, who is fain
   For Vdovà to toil,
   On the weed-grown soil?
With fine, fine tears it is raining now. . . .
   When one comes from the tomb
   Vdovà shall plough!"


THE wild wind bloweth ever,
   The tree's high branches shaking.
His letter cometh never–
   And ah, my heart is breaking!

O cruel wind, ever teasing!
   The man I'll soon be hating
Keeps writing without ceasing–
   How long my heart is waiting!


BETWEEN the two dark clouds
   The moon comes out with light.
A little higher than the moon
   There is a bird in flight.
O weary, weary are the wings the sky enshrouds!
               Wings that have tired too soon.

Ah, woe is for the heart
   That loved, nor ever changed.
That ever loved so true
   What skies soe'er it ranged.
But weary, weary are the wings that must depart–
               Wings that have tired of you!


HIGH is the mountain-top–
   But there's a lower peak.
Far away lives my love;
   Nearer a girl's to seek.

Oxen and cows hath she–
   My love of far away,
Loveliness only holds;
   Yet is she rich to-day.

Linen all bleached and white
   Lies in my neighbour's chest–
Ah, but an eyebrow black
   Counts more than all the rest!

Fair maid so close to me,
   What leagues are we apart–
Over the hills to thee
   I come, I come, Sweetheart!


MY girl tricked me–
But she's so nice why should I mind?
Mother! Could'st thou a nicer find
To be the wife of this thy son?
Nay, there was never such a one.
But ah, she's such a little tease,
My love, who's like red cranberries!

The beauty of her eyebrows! Fain
Am I to tell you once again
How like the clouds they seem to be.
They make strange weakness steal o'er me;
Her glances burn me–O the gold
And red of sunset skies unrolled!

Her scarlet lips of such allure!
The torment I each day endure!)
Like plums all downy to the touch,
Ah, 'tis her lips I love so much!
And yet–her cheeks have havoc wrought–
Has she a witch's philtre sought?

Don't fool me, little sweetheart, pray.
As minnows in the water play
So would you slip and slide and turn
The while my heart must glow and burn.
My heart has reached its utmost bounds,
Yet still that fire gnaws, surrounds.

Then, if you love me, plague me not.
You will not lose. See what you've got.
But, if you love me not, my own,
Charm me until I too am stone.
You'll lose if you don't love, I swear,
But–charm me–maybe I won't care!


This song has many variants–the introductory portion of this version was given me by a peasant woman–while a young Ruthenian girl, whose brother was a soldier, said she had often heard him sing the words following:–

BROTHER, whence comest thou?
From beyond Dunai?
What heardest thou in Ukraine?

Nothing have I heard,
Nothing have I seen,
But horsemen on four sides.
The Russians have covered the mountain.

On that mountain a Turkish horse stands,
On the horse sits a Turk's young son.
In his right hand he holds a sword,
From his left blood flows.

. . . . . .

On the rocky steeps a horse is standing;
It is neighing aloud that Love may succour;
It is pawing the earth in woe and anguish.

   Beside the horse a soldier is lying;
   Above them circles a huge bird flying . . .
   Beside the soldier his mother is crying.

"The flag was lost–why lose my life too?
The men were falling–then why not fly?
O mother mine, be not so sorry–
I cannot bear to see you cry!

"They cut me to pieces, but did not kill me.
My head in four, my heart in six.
My white, white fingers they cut in pieces
As if they were but wooden sticks;

"My body white, fine as seeds of poppy–
I was sore wounded in my flight.
O mother mine, be not so sorry
To see your son in such a plight!

"Look for a carpenter, look for a doctor.
The doctor cannot help me greatly;
The carpenter a house will make me.

   "This house no doors nor windows knoweth,
   But when from toil the workman goeth
   He then on me a gift bestoweth.

"When all is lost and all is finished,
My builder and my war–good-bye,
O mother mine, cease from your weeping,
Because your son is going to die!"


"COME out, dear young Melanonka,
Look about and on each hand,
Lest perchance your father stand
On some doorstep, Melanonka!"

         "O I know, I know
         That I have no father! . . .
         I will send a crow
         To some far-off land
         To bring me news
         Of my distant kin;
         And into the ground,
         Yea, deep within,
         I will send Zuzula
         For my dear father."

The crow brings news from his long flight:
"Your kinsfolk come with much delight."
Zuzula flies and tidings brings:
"Your father may not come," it sings.
"The cold earth, like a heavy door
Has closed. It may not open more.
Of windows, like the shining sun,
Alas, alas, it has not one
Through which your father's eyes might see
How fair his orphan child should be!"

"My father dear, my falcon, 56 stands
Before the Lord, and earnestly
He prays, 'O God, from heaven to earth
Now may I go, my child to see?'"
"O humble soul–they have no need
For such as thee. Her maidens there,
Faithful attendants, wait her will,
Arrange the wreath on her bright hair,
Heaping her dowry very high,
They'll seat thy daughter as a queen,
They'll robe her as a lady fair."

56 Falcon: beloved one.


"LIGHT o' the moon, shine out, shine out,
   Round as the wheel of a mill.
Come out, Sweetheart, its glory see,
   Listen, the night is still.
      Then speak for a while to me!"

"Ah, but I long to come, my love!
   See how I bend and yearn.
But candles are still in those windows set;
   At a whisper heads will turn. . . .
      Alas, they will part us yet!

"Mother, is't thou? . . . Nay, strike me not,
   Make me not lame for aye.
Peace. . . . Thou may'st bandage mine eyes to-night,
   And lead me the river nigh–
      But give me one moment's sight!

"For then I would have one fleeting glance,
   Beautiful world, farewell!
Earth, full of all that is loveliest,
   Who shall my sad fate tell,
      Flung on the river's breast?

"World, thou wert fair as all God's things be;
   But hardly my days went by–
Harder it is for me to go–
   Sad, O sad to die,
      Nor lived my joy to know!"

57 In Bukowina it used to be too often the fate of the girl of sixteen or thereabouts to be "thrown to a lover" of her mother's choice regardless of her own passion for another. "Mothers in Austria are like step-mothers," said a Ruthenian girl to the writer in explanation of this poem. Many a young girl has drowned herself when she found that her dreams of happiness might not come true.


On the steppes two fir-trees old,
Their shrunken trunks uphold.

And there stands a third between
Splendid in its towering green.

      A young Cossack lies sick on the road,
      A young Cossack lies low.

Spent he lies, and he fears that death
Waits beside for his last-drawn breath.

      "O my brothers, pray you run
      To let my mother know,
      To let my mother know!

      "Let her come where the frontier lies
      To bury the Cossack,
      To bury the Cossack."

("O son of mine," she wailing cries,
"Lo, ever thus the sinner dies!

"Thy stubborn heart that would not bend,
Such is thine end, such is thine end!"

      "And my grave, O Mother dear,
      With stones thou'lt heap it high,
      With stones thou'lt heap it high.
      "Plant at my head red cranberries,
      Scarlet against the sky,
      Scarlet against the sky.
      "Upon the branches hang
      A bright-red scarf, like flame,
      A scarf, like glowing flame.
      "To show how Cossacks die:
      Ukraine shall know my fame,
      Ukraine shall know my fame!"


IN the garden beside the water
   Barwēnok will not grow.
   Nor will the maiden to the river go–
         The miller's daughter,
            Her pails to fill.

In the garden beside the water
   She spread to dry, one day,
   Seeds of the fragrant, pungent caraway.
         The miller's daughter
            She comes no more.

In the garden beside the water
   A tree is bending down.
   The maiden, idle, in the sombre gown,
         The miller's daughter
            Is troubled sore.

In the garden beside the water
   She doth bemoan her fate.
   A man is standing by the garden gate.
         The miller's daughter
            Hears his low laugh.


I HAVE lost her, my loved one–
My heart is nigh broken.
As a mother her baby
So loved I my darling;
So would I have given
My loved one, my loved one, my heart!

I sit by the window
And think "Would she wed me!"
If she knew all my passion
As a mother her baby,
So would she have loved me,
And given her heart.

Outside of her garden
I wait for her coming
Though cometh she never–
Alas, now I know it,
She careth not for me
And mocketh at love!


"SPREAD wide thy fair branches, and flourish, my Oak,
For to-morrow, to-morrow all will be lost;
To-morrow, to-morrow cometh the frost.

"Make ready, young Cossack, thine arms for the war,
For to-morrow, to-morrow the soldier must go–
To-morrow, to-morrow they march on the foe."

"Nay, I have no fear of the frost and its might–
To-morrow, to-morrow, I stand in men's sight
As queenly and fair, as green-leaved and bright."

"I am not afraid of the coming of dawn,
Though to-morrow, to-morrow will see us march on–
To-morrow, to-morrow the Cossack is gone. . . . "

"Sprinkle the roads that the dust may not fly:
Cheer father and mother, friends, lest they may sigh."
They have sprinkled the roads, but the dust hangs in clouds,
They comfort the sad, but still Sadness enshrouds.

Before the hromada 58 the Cossack bows low:
"Farewell, friends and foes, and all whom I know.
Farewell! If perchance I have quarrelled with some
(Or if with my friends has a variance come),
I have ended all strife and all quarrelling sore,
Because I return, O hromada, no more!"

58 Hromada: the whole parish.


DARK the road and lonely,
   A Cossack comes a-riding–
Who is this he sees there?
   Just a girl in hiding.

"Look at me and fear not,
   Don't run home to Mother.
Look! am I not handsome
   Was ever such another?

"But, my pretty lady,
   It's not you I'll marry,
Unless it be you bring me
   Heaps of gold to carry!"

. . . .

A maiden walks in shadow
   Adown the road so lonely.
She hears a sudden clatter–
   Ah, it's a Cossack only.

"Look at me, my brave one,
   Black, black is my eyebrow.
If thou could'st see this Halka
   Then surely thou would'st sigh now.

"I haven't got a kopeck–
   Ah, how I love to tease thee!
I'd never wed thee, Cossack,
   Because thou dost not please me!"


(This is sung to a tune almost identical with "The Little Brown Jug")

THE rain is falling, falling fast,
   So swift it rushes down apace,
   "Shush-shush," it sounds in channel's race.
      . . . . . .
"Who's going to take me home to-night."

The Cossack who's been drinking deep
   Sees at the dance a lady smile.
   "O fair one, stay a little while
And I will see you home to-night."

"I beg you not to take me home
   Because my husband is a bear!
   He'd beat me when I entered there,
If you should see me home to-night."

The music makes a noise like rain.
   The fiddlers play, the drum booms on–
   The Cossack waits–she has not gone–
All know he'll take her home to-night!


BY a river, swiftly flowing,
Perched Holubka and Holub, 59
Lovers, how they kissed each other!
Close embracing with their wings.
"Thou art my good luck," said she,
"I would give my life for thine!"

From the wood an Eagle old
Sudden flew and killed Holub.
Then he bore Holubka far–
Over the swift rivers bore–
Strewed before her golden wheat,
Sad, she mourned and would not eat.
And she sang: "Holub's not here,
Now he never will be here!"

"Seven pairs of pigeons wait
For thy choosing, foolish child–
Take the one thou wouldest have."

"Though there should be twenty-four
Never one like my true love!"

59 Holub: he-pigeon.


HARD bloweth the wind, and the trees are bending,
I weep, for my heart aches so, with a pain unending.

My years pass in my woe, and so shall ever–
Alone I mourn, my folk must see me never.

For when none see the tears, and no one chideth,
Peace in my heart a moment then abideth.

Else, those around me say with laughter scornful,
"She weeps–O well, what's that–she's always rather mournful!"

They do not know the cause for tears upwelling,
Ah, not to them in words the truth I'm telling.

How lives the tree that in the sand is growing,
When sun and dew no bounties are bestowing?

How live I then, when in the day so weary
My sweetheart comes not to my heart so dreary?


HESITATE no more, Beloved;
   Weigh not gain and loss–
I have crossed the rapid river 60
   The Danube I shall cross.

If much longer, my Beloved,
   Pondering, you wait,
All your wheat in fields shall winter
   Harvested too late.

60 The rapid river: River of Youth.


"Mud lies at the door, the door of the inn:
Thatched is its roof with straw–O it's a sin
The money I've spent there–the sums untold,
They might have topped the roof with solid gold.
                     Hai, Hai!

The landlady and landlord, quarrelling,
Stop as they hear the tramp begin to sing.

"Get up, get up and fetch me supper soon."
"Nay, there's no bite nor sup for such a tune.

"Lie down, lie down, such legs can't bear you far–
Head to the door, feet where the tables are!"

Then, ere he sleeps, he hears the landlord shout:
"Oxen must drink–get up and take them out!"

He has no hat, so no hat may he don;
He wears no boots, for they have long since gone.

Three hours before the dawn, unwashen, cold,
He sees a dark cloud gather, fold on fold.

And soon the rain in pelting drops descends
Upon the wretch who has no home nor friends.

He looks upon his bare feet, and, with tears,
"Mother!" he cries, "behold the toll of years!

"Why was I born, or why didst thou not shrink
From giving me my will–freedom to drink?

"One only son hadst thou, whom men call 'tramp,'
Doubtless a vagabond and worthless scamp–

"When thou didst carry me on river bank,
Why didst thou not see to it that I sank?"


(From the Opera "Natalka Poltavka," by IVAN KOTLAREVSKY)

PETRUS I love, I love so well–
But I'm afraid, afraid to tell.
      O the trouble he gives, the little Petrus,
      Fair-skinned, with black moustache!

My mother knows–I wonder how–
That I'm in love with Petrus now.
      O the trouble he gives, etc.

My mother beat me, you must know,
Because I love my Petrus so.
Although, my mother, you strike me,
Petrus will soon be mine, you'll see!
If my Petrus is not in sight
Before a wind I bow down quite.
But if his eyes in mine should glance
With arms akimbo watch me dance!
How I have cooked! I love to bake
For dear Petrus delicious cake.
. . . Alas, he comes not. . . . What a loss
Was all my cooking! There across
The street comes tiresome Hritz instead
To eat my lovely cake and bread!
      O the trouble he gives, the little Petrus,
      Fair-skinned, with black moustache!



How like to the poppy seed is this world,
   It blossoms, it blossoms to-day.
To-morrow a stormy tempest blows
   And the flower has vanished away.

O sad for the forests and willow-trees
   That hark to the nightingales:
O woe for the house of the widow young
   When the voice of her husband fails!

O sad for the forests and willow trees
   When no nightingales awake
The rest of the little singing birds
   As the rays of the morning break!

And sadder still is the quiet house
   Where the lonely widow sleeps:
Where the little children none shall rouse
   Since the grave their father keeps.


How sad, O my Mother, how sad
To think of the roses blown by the wind
And the petals all swept away!

How sad, O my Mother, how sad
For the war-horse in battle array!

But sadder my heart for the soldier young
Who must go for those three long years:
Must go at the call of his king!


HERE is a hill,
And there is a hill.
And between them shines
A bright, bright star.

What I thought a star
My sweetheart was–
She for water went
And I followed her
As I would seek
A star in the sky.
My fine grey horse
With me I took.

"My sweetheart dear,
Now what woke thee
In the early dawn?"

"Nay, no one woke–
When I arose
In the first starlight
I bathed my face.
With the second stars
I went to the well."

"O my dear sweetheart,
Wilt water my horse?"

"I will not water
Thy thirsty horse,
Because I fear;
For I am not thine.
If thine I were,
From the bubbling spring
And with new pails
I would quench the thirst
Of horses twain."

"O dear my love,
Sit now with me
On my fine grey horse!
Homeward we'll go.
Four splendid rooms
In my home have I.
The fifth one, love,
Waits but for thee.
It is lighted up
For us two alone."

When they went through the town
None saw them go;
When they went on the steppes
The fine grey horse
Took bit in mouth,
Plunged in the stream
And its rider slew.

   "O love of mine,
   Lean close, lean close!
   Till he bring you safe
   To the farther shore.
   Look now, I drown
   While yet so young!
   Good-bye, sweetheart,
   Good-bye, good-bye!
   Heed not strange men
   Who'd speak with thee,
   For thou art young,
   Alas, so young!"


"GIRL o' mine,
   Give my horse a drink!"

      "Not yet am I your wife.
      Were that my lot in life
      My widra 61 from the spring
      Cold water then would bring."

"Girl o' mine,
   Get up behind this horse!
      Ride we at swiftest gait!
      Rooms in my house await.
      The guest-room, O so fine!
      Shall couch this girl o' mine.
Girl o' mine,
   My horse needs better guard!"

      "Ah, but the road is hard;
      The dew's on the grass yet,
      My bare feet would get wet."

      "My coat around your feet
      Shall keep them warm, my sweet.
      And when God wills, I'll buy
      New shoon to keep them dry."

      "Nay, buy no shoes for me–
      Your own might better be.
      There's one likes my feet bare–
      Now run and catch your mare!"

61 Widra: pails.


YESTERDAY between the even
And the cock-crow went Yakimy,
Softly went he to the widow,
   None was there to see.

Welcoming, she held in greeting
Both his hands–"How com'st thou, sweetheart? . . .
It is time, my Heart, my lover–
   Go now, slay thy wife!"

To his wife then crept Yakimy,
But he found no heart to strike her–
"You were married at the altar,
   Pretty little bird!"

With entreating words she pleaded,
Begging him to leave her living. . . .
"She was married at the altar,"
   So the widow heard.

"She looked pretty as a swallow,
My true wife, my shlubnazhinka,
She doth beg so hard for life now,
   How am I to kill?"

"Hearken not to her, Yakimy,
Listen not, young Yakimonko,
Take a sword and go behind her,
   And behead her swift."

So he stole behind and slew her.
Then he whispered to the widow:
"How to slay her you have shown me,
   But–the deed to hide?"

"Make a fire in the oven,
Block the flue up very tightly,
So the smoke will not ascend there:
   'She was crazy,' say.

"Later leave her in the forest,
Say that she in foolish dreaming
Lit a fire to warm herself by,
   Perished in the flame."

Listening, Yakimy's neighbour
Heard his baby crying, crying:
"Where's your wife, O young Yakimy,
   That your child cries so?"

"She just went now to the forest
To her sister for a visit,
She forgot her little baby,
   She forgot her child!"

. . . . .

Topmost on a forest nut-tree
Was the little Cuckoo calling:
"They take away the young Yakimy,
   Fetters on his hands!"

At a little inn they rested.
Yakim drank to drown his sorrow:
"Through the widow, cursed widow,
   I have lost my wife!"


GRASS rustling in the breeze,
   And on the hill a soldier lying.
   His horse stands by the dying,
Earth to its very knees.

"Nay, faithful one, stay not
   To see if I grow stronger,
   Tarry thou now no longer
But see thou art not caught.

"The steppes wait for thy feet,
   Then swiftly homeward hie thee;
   Let them not come anigh thee,
Harvesters in the wheat.

"Those raking would betray.
   So, shod with silence going,
   Thou shalt pass these unknowing
Upon thy homeward way.

"Haste through the village street.
   Thou bearest naught of gladness.
   Like orphan in his sadness
Neigh to the folk who greet.

"And at my mother's gates
   The while bars fall asunder,
   My mother comes in wonder
And for thy words she waits.

"'Bay horse, where is my son?
   By thee lies he then drowned there?
   Trampled upon the ground there?
Bay horse, what hast thou done?'

"'Thy son was ever brave,
   But cease now from thy weeping,
   O'er earth and water leaping
Thy son I tried to save.

"'I would have saved his life. . . .
   For this, thy son has tarried,
   A Princess has he married–
The green turf ta'en to wife!'"


PLAYING on the flute was Ivan,
   Walking by Dunai.
And Palazhka, drawing water,
   Smiled at him on high.

"Ivan, Ivan, my heart's lover!
   Come down; drink with me.
Cider of the apple sparkling
   And wine I'll give to thee."

Down came he–she on her threshold
   Offered poisoned cake:
Jelly of the cranberry,
   Venom of the snake.

Came his mother from her sweeping
   As in bed he lay:
"Nay, arise now, my son Ivan,
   Wheat's to cut to-day."

"Lift my head I cannot, Mother,
   It is aching so.
Pray thee, dear my Mother, wilt thou
   To my comrades go?

"Tell them swift to come anigh me.
   Hasten, Mother! Say,
'Come, if ye would see my Ivan
   On his life's last day.'"

Like fine rain their tears were falling
   When his fate they knew–
"Ivan, did Palazhka slay thee,
   Ivan, tell us true?"

"Mother, Mother, dear my Mother,
   Haste thee now away.
Tell Palazhka–'Look on Ivan
   On his life's last day.'"

Then his sweetheart entered softly–
   Heard Ivan's demand:
"Oh Palazhka, didst thou slay me?
   Was't thy mother's hand?"

"Neither I nor yet my mother
   Slew thee, laid thee low.
Why didst thou for draught of water
   To my neighbour go?"


WAS I not once the red cranberry
   By the river flowing?
My father's only child was I
   In his house growing.

   But they plucked the boughs of the kalina,
      They made great bunches–
   Such is my fortune–O unhappy fortune!

But on a day they married me;
   As I was bidden
I married–and, my blinded eyes
   Forever hidden,

      The world grew dark upon that morning–
      Such is my fortune, O unhappy fortune!

Is there no river that I may drown in?
   Was there none other
Than he, the youth to whom they wed me,
   Father and mother?

Rivers a-plenty can be found here–
   But dry the bed now:
And youths, brave, gallant youths, are countless,
   But they are dead now!


AS the cherry glows in the garden,
So she, the loved one, grows–
So I my love caress.
There's a gossiping tongue in the houses,
         The women among:
"For the dance she will not dress!"

O love adored, I must leave thee
Safe in the care of the Lord:
But a long way I must roam–
Expect me, Sweetheart, for a visit
         When grass shall start
On the threshold of thy home.

. . . . . .

"Green grass has swayed on my threshold–
Silken grass begins to fade.
For my love I wait–I wait–
A dove calls now in the garden
         From the withered bough
Stuck in the ground by the gate.
         'Oi-oi-oi-oi!' she is cooing,
         'He comes no more a-wooing.'"


IN the fields grows the rye, rye that is green, is green–
"Tell me, my lover, how livest thou, when never my face is seen?"

"Out in the fields, down-beaten, rye lies upon its face–
So do I live without thee, the good Lord giving His grace."

On the crest of the hill is the rye, cut high on its blooming stem:
Down below is a well where the horses drink water drawn for them.

"With thy breath the water is blown; pray why dost thou not drink?"
"Of what, O young black-browed girl, of what now dost thou think?"

"I think and I think all day: I wonder if I shall wed–
Nay, surely this may not be!" the black-browed maiden said.

"For who would marry me? No oxen nor kine have I,
Black brows–blue eyes–such wealth what lover would satisfy?"

"Fret not thyself, Sweetheart, some one will come to woo,
Caring naught for gold or kine–caring all for eyes of blue!"


"MILA, 62 farewell,
   For I must go!
How you shall grieve
   Full well I know."

"My lover, nay,
   Be sure my heart
Will not be sad
   When you depart!

"I mount one hill:
   Another's set
For you to climb–
   Thus I forget."

. . . .

"When behind my love
   Closed the new gate,
I could not work,
   Nor sleep, nor wait.

"When my soldier passed
   The willows thick
With tears my eyes
   Were blinded quick."

(As he neared the hill
   She fainting lay–
Cold water laved
   Her brow that day.

The Iron Gate
   As he passed by
In a coffin new
   His love did lie.)

Four steeds a-gallop–
   "Young soldier, haste!
The deathbell tolls
   For your love so chaste."

"Nay, let it ring–
   And bury her deep;
For she was not sorry;
   She would not weep."

The soldier young
   Has her threshold gained:
Ah, heavy the tears
   His eyes down rained!

"O little white feet
   So dear to me,
How have they bound ye
   Thus straitly!

"In Ukraina
   When I went to the war,
They walked with me
   So very far.

"Your dear white hands
   Tight-clasped remain.
They rested in mine
   When I marched to Ukraine.

"O you dear thin lips
   So closely sealed.
How you talked to me,
   And love revealed.

"O my dear red cheeks
   How pale they lie.
They bloomed like the rose
   When to war went I.

"Those dear black eyes
   That darkened be,
When I went to Ukraine
   How they looked at me!"

62 Mila: dear one.


"THEY may jeer and call me 'Likho!' 63
   I am Vasilyka!
In the fields I've long been toiling,
   Rest I now must seek O!
In the fields I've long been toiling,
   Rest I now must seek O!"

Vasilyka, evil's coming!
   Wasyl runs to thwack you!
Not a soul is here to rescue,
   Not a one to back you!
Not a one is here to rescue,
   Not a soul to back you.

63 Verbatim: "likha," fem. of "likho." The adjective "likho" has two opposite meanings, sometimes signifying what is evil, hurtful, malicious; sometimes what is bold, vigorous, and therefore to be admired. As a substantive "likho" conveys the idea of something malevolent or unfortunate. But the peasantry also describe by Licho an evil spirit, a sort of devil–"When Likho sleeps, awake it not" is a Polish and South Russian proverb.– Ralston.

The music for this song is captivating and haunts one; the first two lines are slow, the rest of the measure being in quick, lively time.


SO quietly, so gently the Dunai's waters flow.
A maiden combs her hair, and sees reflected far below
A wealth of silken tresses the breeze blows to and fro.

So quietly, so gently the loose hair drifts adown–
"Float there!" she cries, "float onward through vale and busy town,
But wait for me a moment, wait, ere I leap to drown!

"You know the veiling willow upon the river brim?
Wait there–and my sore heart shall come to tell the tale of him–
No end there is to Dunai; no eyes for me shall dim.

"The widow's son was handsome, he loved me, as I thought,
And look upon the misery his laughing eyes have wrought.
Ah, Dunai! did'st thou know it then–know that he loved me not?

"O cruel is my lover, Ivan, the widow's son,
He rode away, and whispered, 'Farewell, my little one–
The day was bright and fair, my dear, but now the day is done.

"'Oh, sit beside the river, or watch me from the wall–
I'll wear the wedding flower some day in banquet hall:
And you can wear, all sombrely, a thick-enfolding shawl.'"

   So quietly, so gently the Dunai's waters flow.

64 Dunai: means literally any river.


THEY say I am lucky, that cares I've none–
Yet never was there so unlucky a one.
'Twill be always the same, while I draw my breath,
From the hour of my birth to the day of my death.
      O Dame Misfortune, I'm in your power,
      Because I was born in a fated hour!

The spring so pretty, she presents brings,
But not for me are her gracious things.
My days go on, and my years fly past,
And I never was happy, from first to last.
      O Dame Misfortune, I'm in your power,
      Because I was born in a fated hour!

I do not count my earliest years,
Though doubtless they had their fill of tears.
O future days! If you wretched be,
Come short of the span allotted to me.

Mother of mine, when you bathed 65 in flowers
Your baby child, of a few short hours,
The while the shower of blossoms broke
Why did not you let the petals choke?

Mother of mine, did you kneel and pray
In cloister dim, when a babe I lay,
That all misfortune should depart
From the little child held to your heart?

"I bore you there, and I knelt and prayed.
Alas, that blessing has been stayed!
Ill-luck has come, in spite of all–
Then take from God what may befall."

65 Boy children bathed soon after birth in water in which "Lewbistok" has been thrown will be lucky in love.


I LIKED a girl too much, too much.
She asked me to come and see her sometime.

So I went to see her upon a Monday–
   I did not find my girl at home.
She was in the garden weeding barwēnok.
   "Ah ha!" I thought, "she is not at home,
         My little sweetheart is not at home."

When I went to see her upon the Tuesday
   I did not find my girl at home.
She was clearing the pea-vines in the garden;
   "Ah ha!" I thought, "she is not at home!
         Naidorozcha Devchina 66 is not at home."

When I came to see her upon the Wednesday
   I did not find my girl at home.
She was out in the pastures herding cattle.
   "Ah ha!" I thought, "she is not at home,
         My sweet little rose is not at home!"

When I came to see her upon the Thursday
      I did not find my girl at home.
So I thought I was lost–I would not get her.

When I came to see her upon the Friday
   She was weeding still in the garden bed.
"Ah ha!" I thought, "she is not at home,
         My rosy cheeks is not at home."

Saturday came and found me calling.
   When the door was opened they told me this:
"She finishes all her work of cleaning."
   And I thought, "May I never see her again!"

When I came to see her upon the Sunday
   I got her that time, you may be sure.
She was sitting there at the dinner table.
   I said, "I have you, Naidorozcha Devchina,
         The first time for you, the last for me!"

66 Naidorozcha Devchina: dearest girl.


O THEY said, the evil talkers,
   I, a maid, should never wed. . . .
I saw Wasyl in the orchard,
   The green boughs above his head.

Refrain. They are mine, the blue wasylki,
         And Wasyl, he comes closer. . . .
      The reason why I like him so,
         The Devil's Father knows, sir!

There's a dam anear the river–
   My Wasylko's gone from sight!
I call him, he does not answer–
   May he spend in health the night.


Kneading bread and bringing calves home. . . .
   Where, Wasylko, art thou? Where? . . .
Laughing now above the oven
   My Wasylko's lying there


Sleeveless shirt for my Wasylko
   I will sew while bread I bake.
For my lad, my own Wasylko,
   See the lovely shirt I make!

Refrain. They are mine, the blue wasylki,
         My Wasyl, he comes closer.
      The reason why I like him so,
         The Devil's Father knows, sir!

67 Wasylki: hyssop. These flowers are used to wreathe the candle held by the bride at her wedding. There is also here the idea of magic properties in the flowers which the maid, who wishes to marry her lover, has planted. This song has a lilting air. The first four lines are andantino, the refrain allegro.



"MY Daughter!
Why dost thou visit the grave-hill?
Why weepest thou; where goest thou?
Like a grey dove at night thou moanest."

"It is nothing, my Mother, nothing. . . . "
And she went to the hill again,
While, weeping, the mother waited.

That is not Herb-o'-Dreams 68
Blooming at night on the grave;
A betrothed maiden Kalina plants,
Waters it with her tears,
Beseeching Heaven:

   "O God, send rain at night,
   Abundant dew,
   So that Kalina
   May bud forth.
   Perhaps my lover
   From the other world
   Will come.
   Lo, there I'll make a nest
   And I myself
   Shall fly to it,
   And we shall sing together
   On the bough.
   Yea, we shall weep and sing
   And murmur low–
   Together we shall in the dawning wing
   Our flight to other worlds."

And the Kalina grew,
Spreading forth branches green. . . .
Three years she visited the grave–
The fourth year dawned.

That is not Herb-o'-Dreams
That blooms at night.
It is a weeping girl
Who to Kalina speaks:

   "O my Kalina, broad and tall,
   Watered before the sunset. . . .
   –Nay, but broad tear-rivers
   Drenched thy roots.
   And to these rivers coward-talk,
   Whisp'ring, would give ill-fame.
   My girl companions look askance at me
   And they neglect Kalina.
   Deck now my head,
   Wash it with dew.
   Cover me from the sun
   With thy broad branches
   Then they will find me, bury me.
   Mocking at me;
   And thy broad branches
   Children will tear off."

At sundown in Kalina's leaves
A bird was singing.
Under the bush a young girl lies,
She sleeps, she sleeps, nor will arise.
Tired, the youthful one. She rests for ever.

The Sun rose over the hill;
Rose the folk joyfully
From happy slumbers.
But all, all the long night through
A mother slept not.
Weeping, she could see
The vacant place at table,
Lone in the dusk,
And she wept bitterly.

68 "The Dream Herb" (a species of anemone) is in the Ukraine considered as something weird and uncanny. It is called Son-travà, literally Dream-grass, and has a flower like a little bell. Maidens pluck it to place under their pillows in early spring, that they may dream of their lovers. But by the rest of the world it is regarded with awe and superstitious fears.




THE sun sets; mountains fade
Into the darkness; the bird's note is stilled.
The fields grow silent, for the peasant now
Rejoicing, dreams of rest.

And I look with desire,
Longing desire–to an orchard dark,
The Orchard of Ukraine.
And I pour forth my thoughts
As though my heart were resting.

Fields, forest, mountains, darkening still–
And in the shadowy blue appears a star . . .
O Star! My Star! . . . And the tears fall . . .
Hast thou then also risen in Ukraine?

Not for the people and not for the praise
These verses now are written. Nay, I write
But for myself, my brothers, for heart's ease.
Lo, from beyond the Dnieper, as from far away
The words flow in and spread the paper o'er;
Laughing and crying as the children do
They gladden my poor soul, uncomforted,
Raw, inconsolable–I joy in them,
With them would always stay. They are my own.
As a rich father loves his little ones,
So am I glad and merry with my own.
Yea, I rejoice; and the good God I praise,
That He lets not my children fall asleep
In this so far-off land, but says, "Run home,
And tell the others in the dear Ukraine
How bitter 'twas to live in such a world!"



THE wind blows through the oaks in the wood,
It dances through the fields.
Beside the high-road it uproots Topolia,
And fells her to the ground.

   Why has she a slim, tall trunk?
   Why are her broad leaves green?
   The field around is blue,
   And wide as the sea. . . .
   When the Tchumak passes
   He looks and bows his head.
   Tchabàn, the shepherd, in the dawn,
   His pipe plays on the hill;
   He looks around.
   Sorrow is in his heart–no shrub is near–
   Only a poplar lone,
   Lone as an orphan stands,
   Fades in an alien land.
Who nurtured this slender and yielding body
To languish on the steppes?
Wait, maidens, I will tell ye!

   With a Cossack
   A maiden fell in love,
   Loved him, but held him not.
   He departed and perished.
   If she had known
   That he would leave her
   She would not have loved him:
   If she had known
   That he would die
   She would not have let him go:
   If she had known,
   She would not have gone for water late at even,
   She would not have lingered
   With her sweetheart
   Under the willow tree
   If she had known! . . .
   But it is dangerous
   To know the future–
   What misfortune will meet us,
   Maidens, seek not to know,
   Ask not of your fate.
   The heart knows whom to love.
   Let it wither, little by little,
   Until it is buried,
   Not for long are the bright eyes
   Of the black-browed girl.
   Girls, O Girls!
   Not for long the rosy cheeks!
   Only till noon–
   Then they will fade, will shrivel,
   The black brows will grow pale. . . .
   Girls! Love ye or like as your heart says.

The nightingale is trilling
In the wood, on the cranberry.
Walking in the meadow
The Cossack sings–

   He sings until Tchornobriva 69
   Comes out of the hut,
   And he asks her:
   "Did your mother hurt you?"
   Close together they stand, they embrace,
   The nightingale sings,
   And, hearing it, they depart,
   Joyful at heart.
   Nobody sees them, none will ask her,
   "Where wast thou, what didst thou do?"
   She herself knows. She loved,
   But her heart was sad with foreboding,
   All unspoken, untold. . . .
   Day and night she called,
   Cooing like a mournful dove,
   But no one heard.
   The nightingale does not sing
   In the wood over the water:
   The black-browed girl sang of old
   Under a willow tree–
   Now she does not sing.
   As an orphan, she hates the white world.
   Without her sweetheart,
   Like an alien, her mother,
   Like a stranger, her father.
   Without her sweetheart
   The sun shines
   As an enemy loves.
   Without her lover
   All is–a grave.
   And her heart beats on.
   One year passed, and another,
   The Cossack did not return.

. . . . .

   "I will not marry him, Mother!
   I do not wish to 'live like a lady,'
   Lower me in a grave with those Towels! 70
   Better to lie in a coffin than to see his face."

. . . . .

   "O fortune-teller, how long will I live in this world
   Without my sweetheart?
   My Heart, Nenka, tell me the truth,
   Is my lover alive and in health?
   Does he love me,
   Or forget and abandon me?
   Tell me, where is my lover?
   Art thou ready to fly to the end of the world,
   Tell, if thou knowest,
   For my Mother marries me to an old, rich man. . . .
   But, O Grey One,
   Never will my heart cease loving that other!
   I would drown myself
   But so I might lose my soul.
   O my 'Ptashka!' 71
   Do something–let me not go home.
   It is hard, hard for me–
   There, at home, the Old One waits
   With the marriage brokers.
   Tell me my fortune."
   "So be it, Daughter. Tarry a while,
   But do my will. Long ago I, too,
   Was a marriageable maiden–
   I know that woe, but it has passed,
   And I have learned to help.
   I knew thy fortune, my dear daughter,
   Two years ago. Then I prepared for thee
   That zilie on the shelf.
   Now take the magic herb,
   And to the clear spring go.
   Ere cock-crow wash thy face,
   Then drink this draught. Sorrow shall pass.
   Run to the grave, nor look thou back–
   Some one behind may cry, but give no heed.
   Run to that spot where once thou saidst farewell;
   Stay there until the moon
   Is crescent in mid-sky,
   Then drink again.
   If he come not,
   Then drink once more.
   After the first draught thou wilt look
   The maid thou wast:
   After the second, a horse will stamp its foot.
   If then thy Cossack lives
   Be sure he'll come;
   But after the third draught,
   O daughter mine,
   Ask not what shall befall!
   But hearken!
   Cross not thyself
   Else naught of this will be.
   Now go! And look upon
   Thy beauty of last year!"

. . . . .

   "To go or not to go?
   No, I will not go home!"
   She went and bathed herself,
   And drank the zilie wine,
   And she was changed;
   Second and third time drank,
   And drowsiness was hers.
   She sang on the wide steppes:
   "Float, float, O Swan,
   Upon the bluish sea!
   Grow tall, Topolia,
   Reach higher, higher!
   Slender and tall, aspire
   Up to the clouds.
   Ask God: Will waiting then
   At all avail?
   Waiting for him, my mate?
   "Grow, grow tall!
   Look out o'er the blue sea.
   Good luck and bad luck lie
   On either side.
   And there, somewhere,
   My lover roams the fields.
   I weep, my years pass by
   Waiting for him.
   Say to him, O my heart, Topolia!
   That people laugh at me.
   Tell him that I shall die
   If he do not come soon.
   Mother herself
   Wishes to bury me. . . .
   Look far, Topolia, and, if he is not,
   Weep with the dew at sundown,
   Though none may know–
   Taller and taller grow,
   Higher and higher.
   Float, float, O Swan,
   Upon the bluish sea."

Such a song Tchornobriva
Sang on the steppes.
O Zilie Miracle!–she is Topolia!
She did not return home;
She did not wait for him.
There slim and tall
She beckons to the clouds.
   The wind blows through the oaks in the wood,
   It dances through the fields.
   Beside the high road it uproots Topolia,
   And fells her to the ground.

69 Tchornobriva: black-browed girl.

70 Rushniky: long towels prepared by a mother for her daughter's dowry: in case of death used to lower the coffin.

71 Ptashka: little bird.



BLOW, O Wind, unto my Ukraine!
For I left there a sweet maiden.
Yea, two dark-brown eyes I left there–
Blow, thou wind, from midnight onward.

There in Ukraine lies a valley,
In the valley there's a Khuta;
In the hut there dwells a maiden–
Little maiden, wild she-pigeon.

There, O Wind, Hush and be silent!
Rest above her face in quiet;
Bow above her rosy face, thou;
Look: is she, my sweetheart, sleeping?

Or is she awake, my pigeon?
If she sleeps not, set her dreaming
Of the one she loved, her dearest,
Whom she swore she would forget not.

But, O Wind, if she forget me,
If she have another wooer. . . .
Die away in Ukraina–
Come not back to me in exile!

. . . . . .

And the wind blows on through Ukraine . . .
My heart weeps: 'tis full of sorrows . . .
And the wind fled into Ukraine,
And it never turned backward.



IT is about a month since my loved one bade me good-bye,
Since he went away, and wept, and gave me the ring;
"If I do not return from war, but there lay my head,
This ring shall remind you aye of your true love."

Early this morning the ring on my finger broke.
Doubtless the raven croaks, perching upon his head!
I will to the fortune-teller–"Young am I, but sad;
Read me the sign of the ring. I fear that some evil comes."

. . . . . . .

"There is no good news here; this that you see means blood!"

. . . . . . .

"O mother, my heart burns up! My heart burns like a fire."
The world in her eyes turned black, and she fainted as quietly
As a flower under a leaf droops in a blazing sun.

In a village graveyard old there stands a cross of oak.
Under it dreams a girl; she has dreamt this many a year.
And her loved one from the war has never, never returned.
In a far-off land, somewhere, he fell into dreamless sleep.



YOU, my brother, stayed at home,
   Threshing out the beans–
I hied me to Germany,
Seeking where my Luck might be,
         League on league to roam.

Under Bukowina's sky,
   Even there I went,
Passed the flinty Tyrol's bar,
Wandered till I reached a star–
         Wandering still am I!

Ah, my brother, you did well–
   Threshing all the while.
Luck that would not come to me,
Luck I went so far to see,
         In your beans it fell!

72 The fables and songs told him as a child by an invalid sister first turned the thoughts of the Bukovinian poet, Fedkovich, towards poetry. He was born in 1834, his mother being an unlearned peasant, full of superstition. These songs, heard as a child, he wove into music when serving in the army, and to the unknown poet, his sister, is really due part of his fame, she having inspired him by her fancy.

After living for some time in Czernowitz and Moldavia the boy of eighteen joined the Austrian army and seven years later was made an officer, taking part in the Italian wars of 1859, when the Austrians opposed the French. On his return to Bukovina Fedkovich found that his writings had a wide popularity, and he soon made the acquaintance of some well-known patriots who encouraged him to write in Ruthenian, for up till then he had been composing in German. In 1861 his first sixteen poems were printed in Ruthenian, and a year later a larger edition of his works was published. In 1872 he moved to Lemberg, but city life palled on him and he ended his days in the free country life of Bukovina, dying in 1888. His work is marked by great lyrical beauty.


THE midnight fire flickers,
The embers slowly dying;
The father sits at the table,
Heavily, sadly thinking.
The mother, too, sits quiet,
Sending swift prayers to Heaven.
Her heart is filled with grief,
But she knows not words to tell it.
The sisters finish their sewing
By the light of the Kahanetz.

The brother has sought a corner
To pipe sad tunes on a flute.
He plays on the flute of Ivan,
Ivan who the Emperor serves.
Suddenly, with a heart-cry,
He stops-his sad, sweet playing:
"Ivan, Ivan! It sounds not,
Thy famous tunes are silent!
Where, O where art thou living,
And how doth my brother fare?"

Brushing away his tears
He placed his flute near the rafters.
Quietly leaving the room
He went to sleep in the stable,
That he might talk with the bay
Concerning Ivan, his brother.

   And on the hot sands of Italy,
   On the green grass lies a soldier,
   Shot, awaiting death, alone, alone,
   As a leaf in desert lands.
   Only the moon is shining–
   Above him proud Cheremshina 73
   Her buds flings outward.
   And he lies thinking, thinking,
   Dreaming of his home,
   Bidding good-bye to father,
   To mother, brother, and sisters:
   "Adieu, adieu, Kateryna,
   With thine undying love,
   With thy so sweet affection.
   Adieu, my golden weapons,
   Adieu, my bay in the stable
   That carried me to dances,
   That knew my heart's deep secrets."

Then, low and faint in the distance
There reached his ears, uncertain,
The sound of sweet flute piping.
It drifted into silence. . . .
The soldier's head has fallen,
The stars have faded away.

On Sunday in the village
Gather Ivan's companions.
"Brothers, come, let us play it,
The famous flute of Ivan's!"
How vain were all their efforts;
'Twas dumb, as dumb as ever.

And on the hot sands of Italy,
Under the boughs of Cheremshina,
What does he dream, Ivan?
Does he dream of the bay,
Or of Kateryna?

73 Cheremshina: birdcherry.


THE bell rings, rings, rings!
The whole city is ablaze with light,
Light dazzling as the heavens.
Even in the barracks the echoes ring,
Although it is all dark and quiet within.
One soldier alone stands in a ray of light;
He leans against a pillar sadly,
As if it were indeed his coffin.
He raises tearful eyes to Heaven,
As though he would entreat the stars:
The stars for him shine very brightly,
Gleam houses beautiful and merry.
Why then a heart so faint and weary
If there is naught to cause it anguish?
How can I know? . . . I dare not ask him . . .
See how his brows are frowning ever–
Who knows the trouble of the soldier?


SAD and quiet is the House of God,
Stillness holds all and is held there.
Only the old priest reads prayers from a book;
A lonely candle is dying fast.
From the walls the statues of gold
Look down with a wondering stare.

And on the stones, on the cold pavement,
What do I see?
A young, dead soldier resting in a coffin,
No sister lamenting, nor mother fainting with grief;
Just a candle, dropping its wax-like tears,
And the stare of the statues,
And the priest saying prayers for the dead,
A last kiss beseeching for the dead orphan;
But none goes to kiss him. And no one will.
The black cover is nailed on; the candle, melting, falls.
(No sister lamenting, nor mother fainting with grief!)
This is a soldier, an orphan–then who should mourn?


IN the great Emperor's courtyard
He stood at his post on the pavement.
He washed his face and dried it
As the duck her wings in water.
He washed his face with his tears–
None saw or heard in the silence.

He leaned his head on the bayonet
And slept for a precious moment.
In the great Emperor's courtyard
He slept on his sharp-tipped bayonet.

He dreamt that he walked on a mountain–
O blue was the dream-like mountain!–
Brushing his hair in ringlets.
He walked on thinking, thinking:
Why does my mother write not,
Or can she still be living?

He heard her answer softly:
"I would like, my son, to write you,
But they made me a tomb so lofty
That I may not rise from beneath it.
Oh rise I cannot, my Eagle!
For deep below, on the bottom,
They have covered my hands with earth-clods,
With earth that is lying heavy."

. . . . . . .

In the great Emperor's courtyard
He would have dreamt still longer,
But the bell on high St. Stephen's
Rang with a sudden clamour. . . .

He wiped his face from the misting,
His bayonet wiped he dully–
Blood flows on the courtyard pavement
From the soldier lying dead there.


THE sun was drowning in the ocean's brim
   Red, red as blood;
   And in the crimson flood
A young girl sewed a handkerchief with gold,

Embroidering in gold with stitches fine–
   (Like lilies white
   Her cheeks will look to-night,
Like pure-white lilies washed with tears).

And as she sewed she pressed it to her heart.
   Then, weeping sore,
   She opened wide the door:
"Strong wind, my Eagle, take this on your wings!

"Strong as the Dunai ever onward flows,
   O wind so free,
   Deliver this for me
Where now he serves, yea, where the heart well knows.

"He in the Uhlans' ranks is fighting now–
   Go, Golden One,
   From sun to sun,
Float on the wind until that place you find!

"And, Golden One, when you shall hear one call
   Even as a dove,
   Rest, for my love,
My loved one will be waiting here below.

"He has a bay horse, and his weapons are
   Shining as gold.
   Wind, free and bold,
Fall to his heart, as the rose petals fall.

"If sleeping, wake him not–and, O my God!
   If slain he lie,
   For your good-bye,
O Golden One, cover his sweet dead face."


"LOOK at the soldier's kabaty, 74
   Mother, mother mine!
Is it not red–like blood–to see,
Or is it like the cranberry?
   Knowest thou me?"

"I know thee, I would always know
   My only son.
Young as the cranberries that grow,
   Bright as the reddest one!"

"The cranberry in that deep wood,
   Mother, mother mine!
For me, for me it does not bloom.
High has my flower risen–a tomb
   Built for thy son.

"O mother, there it stands–my mate! . . .
   To-morrow, mother mine,
In silken grass and on green lawn
So very early, in the dawn,
   I will bow low.

"To Hetman young myself I'll bow:
   'Young Hetman! Sir!
Wilt bless me, me, the young Cossack?'"

"I'll bless thee, where the cannons black
   Full loudly roar!
There will I bless thee, O my son!"

   "My Hetman, Hetman mine!
I follow, and I die, with thee;
I follow, dying–let me be . . .
   Mother, don't cry!"

74 Kabaty: uniform.

TO M. D.

YOU are a Hutzul, 75
And I am a Hutzul–
   The serdak 76 both of us wear;
   Both born in the forest,
   Both christened in the Cheremsh, 77
   Played hide-and-seek with the Bear.
   We knew not where luck would lead–
   If this road meant good luck,
   If that road meant bad luck,
   Naught did we ever heed.
   To both good fortune came.
   She did not forget us;
   Her bounty she gave us,
   To both of us just the same.
   Great lords she would have us be,
   To dwell in a palace,
   But ah, she was drunken!
   Our Luck was fuddled, you see.

You are a Hutzul,
And I am a Hutzul–
   She placed her sheep 'neath the Shears!
   That's how Luck has served us,
   And pray who shall tell us
   Just where the blame appears?

75 Hutzul: Ruthenian Highlander.

76 Serdak: short jacket.

77 Or Cheremosh.


sheet music for Ukrainian National Anthem in three vocal parts with words in Cyrillic alphabet

sheet music for Ukrainian National Anthem in three vocal parts with words in Cyrillic alphabet



(This anthem has several variants; one of these, seemingly the most popular, is chosen for the two stanzas here translated.)

SHE lives on, our Ukraina!
   Her freedom and glory–
Let us hope that once more fortune
   May illume Her story.
Like the dew before the sunshine
   Our foes disappearing,
We shall rule, Oh, youthful brethren!
   Our land, nothing fearing.

Chorus. Soul and body sacrificing
         For our freedom cherished,
      We shall show we are the sons of
         Mighty Cossacks perished!

Nalivaiko and Zalizniak
   And Trasilo–falling–
Urge us to our sacred duty,
   From the grave-hills calling!

Let us keep in our remembrance
   Deaths of Cossacks knightly,
For our youth, our splendid manhood,
   We would not spend lightly.

Chorus. Soul and body sacrificing
         For our freedom cherished,
      We shall show we are descendants
         Of great Cossacks perished!


The Temple Press - Letchworth England

About This Edition

Footnotes have been renumbered and collected at the end of each poem. Originally they appeared at the bottom of the page on which they were referenced. Short bar lines have been used to set off poems and their related notes sections.