Taras shevchenko — my friendly epistle
My Friendly Epistle
To the Dead, the Living, and to Those Yet Unborn, My Countrymen all Who Live in Ukraine and Outside Ukraine,
If a man say, I Love God, and
hate his brother, he is a liar,
1 John iv. 20
Day dawns, then comes the twilight grey,
The limit of the live-long day;
For weary people sleep seems best
And all God's creatures go to rest.
I, only, grieve like one accursed,
Through all the hours both last and first,
Sad at the crossroads, day and night,
With no one there to see my plight;
No one can see me, no one knows me;
All men are deaf, no ears disclose me;
Men stand and trade their mutual chains
And barter truth for filthy gains,
Committing shame against the Lord
By harnessing for black reward
People in yokes and sowing evil
In fields commissioned by the Devil…
And what will sprout? You soon will see
What kind of harvest there will be!
Come to your senses, ruthless ones,
O stupid children, Folly's sons!
And bring that peaceftil paradise,
Your own Ukraine, before your eyes;
Then let your heart, in love sincere,
Embrace her mighty ruin here!
Break then your chains, in love unite,
Nor seek in foreign lands the sight
Of things not even found above,
Still less in lands that strangers love…
Then in your own house you will see
True justice, strength, and liberty!
Gain knowledge, brothers! Think and read,
And to your neighbours' gifts pay heed, —
Yet do not thus neglect your own:
For he who is forgetful shown
Of his own mother, graceless elf,
Is punished by our God Himself.
Strangers will turn from such as he
And grudge him hospitality —
Nay, his own children grow estranged;
Though one so evil may have ranged
The whole wide earth, he shall not find
A home to give him peace of mind.
Sadly I weep when I recall
The unforgotten deeds of all
Our ancestors: their toilsome deeds!
Could I forget their pangs and needs,
I, as my price, would than suppress
Half of my own life's happiness…
Such is our glory, sad and plain,
The glory of our own Ukraine!
I would advise you so to read
That you may see, in very deed,
No dream but all the wrongs of old
That burial mounds might here unfold
Before your eyes in martyred hosts,
That you might ask those grisly ghosts:
Who were the tortured ones, in fact,
And why, and when, were they so racked?…
Then 0 my brothers, as a start,
Come, clasp your brothers to your heart, —
So let your mother smile with joy
And dry her tears without annoy.
Blest be your children in these lands
By touch of your toil-hardened hands,
And, duly washed, kissed let them be
With lips that speak of liberty!
Then all the shame of days of old,
Forgotten, shall no more be told;
Then shall our day of hope arrive,
Ukrainian glory shall revive,
No twilight but the dawn shall render
And break forth into novel splendour….
Brother, embrace! Your hopes possess,
I beg you in all eagerness!
Viunishcha, December 14, 1845
Translated by C. H. Andrusyshen & W. Kirkconnell