"Should we not then cease, my friend", poem of Taras Shevchenko. Translated from Ukrainian by Vera Rich


Taras Shevchenko

SHOULD WE NOT THEN CEASE, MY FRIEND

("Chy ne pokynut' nam, neboho" / "Чи не покинуть нам, небого")


Should we not then cease, my friend, 
My poor dear neighbour, make an end 
Of versifying useless rhymes?
Prepare our waggons for the time 
When we that longest road must wend? 
Into the other world, my friend,
To God we’ll hasten to our rest... 
We have grown weary, utter-tired,
A little wisdom we’ve acquired, 
It should suffice! To sleep is best,
Let us now go home to rest...
A home of gladness, you may know!

No, let us not depart, nor go,—
It is early still,
We shall yet take walks together,
Sit, and gaze our fill,
Gaze upon the world, my fortune,
See how wide it spreads,
Wide and joyful, it is both 
Bright, and of great depth!
We shall yet take walks, my star,
On a hill climb high,
And take our rest together... And 
Your sister-stars, meanwhile,
The ageless ones, will start to shine, 
Through the heavens glide...
Let us linger then, my sister,
Thou, my holy bride,
And with lips unsullied we shall 
Make our prayer to God,
And then set out quietly 
On that longest road,
Over Lethe’s plumbless depths,
Waters dark and swarthy,
Grant me then thy blessing, friend, 
With thy holy glory. 

While this and that and all such wear on, 
Straight let us go, as the crow flies,
To Aesculapeus for advice,
If he can outwit old Charon
And spinning Fate... And then, as long as 
The old sage would change his purpose,
We would create, reclining there,
An epic, soaring everywhere 
Above the earth, hexameters
We’d twine, and up the attic stairs 
Take them for mice to gnaw. Then we 
Would sing prose, yet with harmony 
And not haphazard.

                       Holy friend,
Companion to my journey’s end,
Before the fire has ceased to glow,
Let us to Charon, rather, go!
Over Lethe’s plumbless depths,
Waters dark and swarthy,
Let us sail, let us bear 
With us holy glory,
Ageless, young for evermore...
Or — friend, let it be!
I will do without the glory,
If they grant it me,
There on the banks of Phlegethon,
Or beside the Styx, in heaven,
As if by the broad Dnipro, there 
In a grove, a grove primaeval,
A little house I’ll build, and make 
An orchard all around it growing,
And you’ll fly to me in the shades,
There, like a beauty, I’ll enthrone you;
Dnipro and Ukraina we 
Shall recollect, gay villages 
In woodlands, gravehills in the steppes,
And we shall sing right merrily.


Poem of Taras Shevchenko
"Chy ne pokynut' nam, neboho"
("Чи не покинуть нам, небого")
1861, St. Petersburg, (С. - Петербург)
 
Translated by Vera Rich

Source of the original poem in Ukrainian: Taras Shevchenko. Zibrannja tvoriv: U 6 t. — Kyjiv, "Naukova dumka", 2003. Том 2: Поезія 1847 - 1861, stor. 372 - 373; 760 - 761. 

Source of English translation of the poem: Taras Shevchenko."Song out of Darkness". Selected poems translated from the Ukrainian by Vera Rich. London, 1961, p. 113 - 114.

Ukrainian text of the Taras Shevchenko's poem:

 

Taras Shevchenko poems, Ukrainian poet, Shevchenko's poem in English, poetry translated into English, Translated by Vera Rich, Should we not then cease my friend, Чи не покинуть нам небогоTaras Shevchenko poems, Ukrainian poet, Shevchenko's poem in English, poetry translated into English, Translated by Vera Rich, Should we not then cease my friend, Чи не покинуть нам небого
 


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