I Hear Shevchenko Weeping

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Poetry  |  House: Booksie Classic
A poem about the Ukraine

Submitted: December 29, 2007

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Submitted: December 29, 2007

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I hear Shevchenko weeping

Many years ago,
one Sunday summer’s drive,
I saw a Ukrainian Orthodox church
set upon a Catskill mountainside.
Ornate, old style, heavy timbered,
absolutely beautiful;
enough to make my sinner's heart
wish to worship God.
Moved me so I wrote a poem
about a free Ukraine –
and this when Nikita’s hand
was still heavy there,
and Nixon needed oppressed Slavs
to justify his deepening paranoia –

I think Shevchenko’s “Dream”
must have influenced
my perceptions then –
I wrote of loess soils and harvesting,
of endless seams of coal,
and a village I called Chernogrod;
and all the septic black evenings
under Russia’s heel.
And all this long before
Chernobyl,
Glasnost, or
the crumbling of The Wall.

Ukraine –
coveted for her granaries
and riches –
over time
surrounding nations
all have had their piece.

Ukraine -
land of a millennium’s
Christian worship,
and land too of pogroms,
multiple invasions,
and sorrowing Barby Yar.

Ukraine –
now a Yellow Revolution’s come -
releasing all the pent-up tensions
and age-old divisions
that festered for generations;
not quite silent under Russia’s gun.
Totally destabilised -
breeding crypto-communists,
home-grown mafia, and
ethnic separatists.

Ukraine – Ukraine!
I hear Shevchenko weeping.


James Gagiikwe 2007

Author's note:Taras Shevchenko, 1814-1861, Ukranian nationalist, painter and poet, heavily influenced Ukranian language and literature. Born a serf, freed by a Russian patron. Exiled for anti-Czarist writings.


© Copyright 2017 James Gagiikwe. All rights reserved.

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