Poets of Ukraine. Taras Shevchenko’s Testament: a Ukrainian Classic. Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Poets of Ukraine. Taras Shevchenko’s Testament: a Ukrainian Classic. Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Dnieper (Dnipro)
Poets of Ukraine. Taras Shevchenko's Testament: a Ukrainian Classic. Translated by A.Z. Foreman

When I die, then bury me
On a rolling plain.
Raise my barrow in the soil
Of my dear Ukraine
With the wheatfields and the cliffs
Of a plunging shore
In my sight, where I can hear
The booming Dnipro’s roar.

When its seaward waters bear
The invaders’ blood
From Ukraine, then I will leave
Field and hill for good.
I will quit it all and fly
Bursting up to God
And say prayers..but till then
I don’t know a god.

Bury me then rise again
And shatter your chains.
Stand and water freedom with
Blood from tyrant veins.
Then in a new family,
The great kin of the free,
Say a soft and gentle word
In my memory.
 

The Original:

Заповіт
Тарас Шевченко

Як умру, то поховайте
Мене на могилі
Серед степу широкого
На Вкраїні милій,
Щоб лани широкополі,
І Дніпро, і кручі
Було видно, було чути,
Як реве ревучий.

Як понесе з України
У синєє море
Кров ворожу… отойді я
І лани і гори —
Все покину, і полину
До самого Бога
Молитися… а до того
Я не знаю бога.

Поховайте та вставайте,
Кайдани порвіте
І вражою злою кров’ю
Волю окропіте.
І мене в сем’ї великій,
В сем’ї вольній, новій,
Не забудьте пом’янути
Незлим тихим словом.

— Dec. 25, 1845

About the Author:

Taras Shevchenko
photo by Self-potrait (oil on canvas)
Taras Shevchenko
Born in Moryntsi (Ukr. Моринці), a village in central Ukraine, in the Zvenyhorodka district of the Cherkasy Oblast

Taras Shevchenko (1814 – 1861) was a Ukrainian poet, writer, artist, public and political figure, as well as folklorist and ethnographer. His literary heritage is regarded to be the foundation of modern Ukrainian literature and, to a large extent, the modern Ukrainian language, though the language of his poems was different from the modern Ukrainian language. Shevchenko is also known for many masterpieces as a painter and an illustrator. Born into serfdom, he began writing poetry early in life, while still a serf. In 1840, his first collection of poetry, Kobzar, was published. According to Ivan Franko, a renowned Ukrainian poet in the generation after Shevchenko, “[Kobzar] was “a new world of poetry. It burst forth like a spring of clear, cold water, and sparkled with a clarity, breadth and elegance of artistic expression not previously known in Ukrainian writing”.

About the Translator:

Alex Foreman
Alex Foreman
USA

Alex Foreman (aka A.Z. Foreman) is a linguist and translator of poetry from Arabic, Catalan, Chinese, Dutch, French, Greek, German, Hebrew, Italian, Latin, Occitan, Persian, Polish, Spanish, Serbian, Russian, Romanian, Romani, Ugaritic, Ukrainian, Urdu, Welsh, and Yiddish.
A blog of his translations: https://poemsintranslation.blogspot.com/p/my-poetry-translations.html

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Taras Shevchenko Тарас Шевченко
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