A Dream (To Marko Vovchok)

Translated by Mary Skrypnyk

In servitude she harvested the wheat,
And wearied; but not for herself to rest,
She hobbled through the standing sheaves
Her son Ivan to feed a mother's breast.
The swaddled infant sobbing lay
Within the cooling shadows of a sheaf,
Unwrapping it, she fed the crying babe,
Caressed it, then dozed off in sleep.
Bent o'er her son in pleasant drowsy haze,
She dreamt about her boy Ivan
Grown-up and handsome, well-to-do,
And married, a fair maid he'd wooed —
A maiden free, she saw — and he himself
No more a serf remained, but free,
And on their own sunlit and happy field
Together harvesting the wheat they'd sown,
Their youngsters bringing lunch from home...
And dreaming thus, the woman smiled, poor soul.
Then wakened — to no change at all...
Glanced at her baby son, and then
Wrapped him up lovingly again,
Went back once more to mow the grain
Before the overseer found her gone.
                       1858, St. Petersburg