Poets of Ukraine. Lina Kostenko. Two Poems Translated by Simon Patlis

Also in Translations:

Poets of Ukraine. Lina Kostenko. Two Poems Translated by Simon Patlis
Poets of Ukraine. Lina Kostenko. Two Poems Translated by Simon Patlis

А flat black shape is swiftly falling down, —
The shadow of a white ascending pigeon.
A meeting place for birds, — the overhang
That crowns the sober lines of the cathedral.
A colorful medley of streets and crowds
And ancient roofs with their sloping shoulders.
The doves are prattling high above the town, —
What are they chattering about, I wonder…
About pretty things, or the cathedral,
The sky above, the war, the world, the humans…
Perhaps, a pigeon says to his beloved:
“When I was flying far, tell, did you miss me?”


Тінь чорна стрімко падає униз –
то білий голуб так злітає вгору.
Проспект пташиний, сонячний карниз
вінчає строгі лінії собору.
Строкаті ритми вулиць і юрби,
дахів похилих старовинні плечі.
Над містом розмовляють голуби.
Про що, не знаю. Про цікаві речі.
Про той собор. Про людство. Про війну.
Про білий світ, про небо з далиною.
А може, він голубці каже: – Ну,
як я літав, ти скучила за мною?

* * *

In truth, the winged need no land:
Without the ground, there’ll be the sky,
Without fog, there’ll be clouds,
Without land, there will be freedom.
In this, perhaps, is their avian truth.
And what about humans?
They live on land and do not fly.
Still, they have wings! They truly do.
Those wings, instead of quills and fluff,
Are made of virtue, truth, and trust.
Some have wings of faithful love,
Some – of endless aspiration,
Some – of empathy and action,
Some – of zeal and pride in work,
Some – of poetry and song,
Of art, hope, dreams, and passion…
They do not fly – or so it seems.
But they have wings! They do have wings!


А й правда, крилатим ґрунту не треба.
Землі немає, то буде небо.
Немає поля, то буде воля.
Немає пари, то будуть хмари.
В цьому, напевно, правда пташина…
А як же людина? А що ж людина?
Живе на землі. Сама не літає.
А крила має. А крила має!
Вони, ті крила, не з пуху-пір’я,
А з правди, чесноти і довір’я.
У кого – з вірності у коханні.
У кого – з вічного поривання.
У кого – з щирості до роботи.
У кого – з щедрості на турботи.
У кого – з пісні, або з надії,
Або з поезії, або з мрії.
Людина нібито не літає…
А крила має. А крила має!

About the Author:

Lina Kostenko
Lina Kostenko
Kyiv, Ukraine

Lina Vasylivna Kostenko (Ukrainian: Ліна Василівна Костенко; born 19 March 1930 is a Ukrainian poet, journalist, writer, publisher, and former Soviet dissident. A founder and leading representative of the Sixtiers poetry movement, Kostenko has been described as one of Ukraine’s foremost poets and credited with reviving Ukrainian-language lyric poetry. Read more about Lina Kostenko here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lina_Kostenko

About the Translator:

Simon Patlis
Simon Patlis
San Diego, USA

Simon Patlis grew up in the former Soviet Union (first in Tashkent, later in Kishinev.) Since moving to the US in 1991, he’s lived in San Diego, CA. Mathematician by education, he works as an IT consultant. He has been writing poetry since childhood and translates English and Russian poetry (English to Russian, Russian to English). He is the author of “Duda”, published in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, in 2006. His work was published in “The Notebook. A Collection of Contemporary Russian Poetry in North America” (“Общая Тетрадь”, Moscow, 2007), as well as in other collections and almanacs of poetry published over the years in Russia and the US.

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