There once were wars and military feuds
("Buvaly voiny y viiskovii svary")
There once were wars and military feuds,
Kisils and Halahans were in their prime
And Kochubey-Nohays* — of such a breed
Our country then was cursed with quite a few!
But all that passed and vanished.
Only the worms who gnaw, devour, and rot
The poor old oak**
Yet from the root new stems
Are growing up; gently and soft they grow.
When they attain full growth, without an axe
Arid with great din, the Cossack, now unhoused,
Will swoop exultant down, shatter the throne,
Tear purple robes to tatters, and will crush
Your idol into bits, ye human worms-
Nay, nursemaidsj cronies, of an alien throne!
When once your sacred idol is no more,
You, too, will disappear!
Nettles and weeds,
And nothing else, will grow above your corpses!
Pile heaped on carrion pile, you will decay
To stench and foul manure-and then to dust
That gradually the wind will blow away.
And those of us who are not rich or poor
Will raise a prayer of gratitude to God!
*Traitors to Ukraine's cause: Adam Kisil who would not join Khmelnitsky against the Poles, and in fact served them against him; Halahan who betrayed the Cossacks by directing the Muscovite troops to the Sitch which was destroyed shortly before the battle of Poltava; Vassil Kochubey (nicknamed Nohay) who kept Peter I informed as to the secret negotiations between Mazeppa and Charles XII of Sweden.
"Buvaly voiny y viiskovii svary"
("Бували войни й військовії свари")
1860, S.- Petersburg (С.- Петербург)
Translated by С.H. Andrusyshen and Watson Kirkconnell
Taras Shevchenko. Zibrannia tvoriv: U 6 t. — K., 2003. — T. 2: Poeziia 1847-1861. — S. 368; 756-757
Source: The Poetical Works of Taras Shevchenko. The Kobzar. Translated from the Ukrainian by С.H. Andrusyshen and Watson Kirkconnell. Published for the Ukrainian Canadian Committee by University of Toronto Press, 1964. Toronto and Buffalo. Printed in Canada, Reprinted 1977, p. 556