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Poems by Dmytro Pavlychko


InUkraine and elsewhere Dmytro Pavlychko is well-known as a brilliant translator of the world poetry, politician and public man, one of the developers of the Act on Independence of Ukraine approved as of August 24, 1991. He was the ambassador of Ukraine to Slovakia and Poland. He contributed as a scriptwriter and culturologist But, first of all, he is known as an eminent poet. Children learn his works in schools, adults and young people read them printed in books or submitted by Internet. His lines are often quoted. Ukrainians sing such songs based on Pavlychkos poems as Two colours and The fog glides along the valley in the family circle or in foreign countries longing for their motherland.

Dmytro Pavlychko is a living classic of the modern Ukrainian literature, active constructor of the new Ukrainian society. He was awarded the National Prize of Ukraine and various international prizes. He is Honorary Doctor of Science of Lviv and Warsaw Universities, professor of Kyiv Mohyla University, Hero of Ukraine. Till now, he continues exploring the external and internal world with his high skill, poetry, which grows, according to him, like the tree from his heart.

Dmytro Pavlychko is a thinker, adequate successor of Ivan Franko, mason of new epoch, Oles Honchar.


Selection and translation by Oleksandr GAVINSKY

This article in its entirety is published here as it has been received from Mr O. Gavinsky with no style-editing done



To make my coffin they would find some planks

As well as it was done to make my cradle.

But while the cradles always left with people

The wooden coffin would be only mine.

Ill find some words to tell you of my grief

Just like I found them for merry carols.

But would the people take my song of sorrow?

Or would my grief be buried next to me?

Its very difficult to write a carol

Which like a cradle lulls your kith and kin

Accompanied by tender mothers chanting.

Its very hard to weep and hide your tears,

To be alone with your own sadness,

Inseparable like your own death.



A doll once was given birth without a heart.

Twas first revealed by a boy

who just was playing with it.

He examined the doll,

kept his palm on its breast,

percussed its back and

found emptiness.

He was eager to turn off the head of it

to look into the dolls body

but then felt sorry for it

since he heard the doll repeating

in a very plaintive voice: Mummy! Mummy!

The Doll had grown up,

she replaced her vehicle by a limousine,

she began to earn money for a magnificent life

in a lot of various ways,

but being heartless from her very day of birth,

the doll was hired to become a killer.

When time had come to assassinate the boy

who used to play with the doll when a child,

and now he was an adult, the Doll burst into tears.

So when shooting at him, the Doll kept saying:

Mummy! Mummy!



A foul verse recited by its author,

Whose throats golden, sounds as the truth,

An abject tone rings as if its brave,

A feeble one sounds vengeful, strong, and loud.

Deprive the mediocrities of throats

And all their poems would lose their gloss.

They are afraid of leaving lines in books

When voiceless they are absolutely helpless.

Like puppets which can quarrel, cry, and laugh

Till all of them are driven by an actor.

As soon as they are left they grow mute.

And you, my hard, intolerable verses,

What will you do when you remain alone?

Say, would you die together with my voice?



I dont dread the pain

that tortures me and disappears

like night

I dread the pain

that comes again and again

like autumn

like memory of a burial

of a close relative

I dread the pain

that as a rule wont bring you down a blow

that tenderly compresses your heart

destroys you gently

playing with you cunningly

like a cat with a little mouse

releasing it and catching again

strikes not to kill it

but only to inflict

an incurable trauma



You have the wrong impression

if imagine that the staircase of yours

you use to go upwards

will lead you only up.

Later, coming down,

you will comprehend your stairway

has been cheating on you.



The violin was gazing at me

immensely imploringly.

It always hung upon the wall

of our blind neighbours apartment.

The violin expected to be taken off

and played by its master,

alas, the latter did it seldom 

when celebrating Christmas and the Trinity.


The violin then

didnt know he was blind,

and it was staring at its master too,

it used to pray him too:

Be so kind, play something,

touch my strings, Im waiting!

But he, certainly, couldnt see its eyes

and the violin in its turn could speak

only when in his hands!

That was a real violins tragedy

and it was the first tragedy in my own life.


I watched the violin through my window,

I was a little kid then

and could not play,

but I could well distinguish

two wrinkles on the violins face,

a pair of big dark-brown eyes,

the violins fair long hair 

all of them in tears.



The tree I have recently planted

recognizes me, sighs over me,

asks me for water when there is drought.

And I, while Im watering the tree I have planted,

very scrupulously and providently

lop off superfluous branches;

I do not take any pity on it, causing anguish,

in the way I would treat my conscience growing

from my heart.


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