A Poem from Ukraine

March 16, 2022
translated by Artem Pulemotov
A photograph of a statue of a female figure clinging to a wall
Lychakivskiy Cemetery in Lviv, Ukraine / Photo by Jennifer Boyer / Flickr

So many words; they are like crippled ghosts!
They strike, like bullets, far and close by
But always miss the essence of my life;
They come in rows.
Through these deceitful words I walk and shamble.
There is a fight; I’m on the battlefield,
Where all my soldiers are the words I wield,
And treason’s sown by memories that scramble . . .
Don’t end up fooled when in the good you trust,
And don’t get lost in your afflictions’ mire.
As one remembers things, one grows more tired;
The day I tire, I will die and thus
Hide in the hues of night unseen by most,
Where they don’t know happiness or wrath,
Where they don’t live but chew their own death.
So many words; they are like crippled ghosts!

Translation from the Ukrainian

Vasyl Stus (1938–1985) was one of the most significant Ukrainian poets of the second half of the twentieth century. A poet, translator, literary critic, and journalist, he was prosecuted by the Soviet government for his views on art and politics and died in a Siberian prison. His works have gained fame and popularity since the collapse of the Soviet Union, particularly in the twenty-first century.

Artem Pulemotov is an associate professor of mathematics at the University of Queensland, Australia. He holds a PhD from Cornell and a bachelor’s degree from Kyiv Taras Shevchenko University.