The Plundered Grave

Translated by Vera Rich

Peaceful land, beloved country,
O my dear Ukraine!
Why, my mother, have they robbed you?
Why do you thus wane?
Before the sun rose in the morning
Did you fail to pray?
Did you to your unsure babes
Neglect to teach the way?
— "I prayed, I worried, sleeping not,
Neither night nor day,
I watched over my small children,
Teaching them the way,
And my flowers throve and grew,
My children true and good,
And there was a time, indeed,
When in this world I ruled
Yes, indeed, I ruled... O Bohdan,
O my foolish son!
Look you well, now, on your mother,
On Ukraine, your own,
Who, as she rocked you, sang about
Her unhappy fortune,
And singing, wept a mother's tears,
Looking out for freedom!..
Bohdan, O my little Bohdan!
Had I known, in the cradle
I'd have choked you, in my sleep
I'd have overlain you.
Now my steppes have all been sold,
In Jews' and Germans' hands;
And my sons at foreign toil,
Far in foreign lands,
My brother, Dnipro, now runs dry
And is deserting me;
And my dear graves the Muscovite
Is plundering utterly.
Let him dig and excavate,
He does not seek his own...
And meanwhile, let the renegades
Wax in strength and grow,
Let them help the Muscovite
Be lord and master there,
And from their mother her old smock,
Patched and worn, to tear!
Help them to torment, you brutes,
Your mother—do not spare!"

Quartered, dug, and excavated,
Gravemound torn and plundered ...
What have they been seeking there,
What was buried under
It by the old fathers? If ...
If they had but found what lay hidden there beneath it,
Then the children would not sleep, the mother cease her

                         1843, Berezan'