Free Ukraine – A poet speaks from the past to Putin

Taras ShevchenkoTaras Shevchenko
Shevchenko called the poem below (which, by the way, was the one which sent the tsar into the greatestrage) a Comedy, that is, a farce. It is one of the most devastating political satires ever penned.In the first part, the poet describes conditions in Ukraine. In the second, he is transported to the northernreaches of Siberia where prisoners toiled in the mines, among them the revolutionary democrats – theDecembrists (“the king of freedom”). Then the scene shifts to St. Petersburg.”The Second to the First” is engraved on the monument Empress Catherine II erected beside the NevaRiver to Tsar Peter I. Shevchenko recalls the destruction of the Sich (fortress) of the Ukrainian Cossacks by the tsars and how the Cossacks and serfs were driven to build St. Petersburg on the marshes, wheremany perished. He depicts their souls as a flock of white birds hovering over the tsar. The acting hetman(whose song is heard by the poet) was Pavlo Polubotok, imprisoned by Peter the Great in the Petro- pavlovsky fortress, where he died in 1724.
Translation by John Weir
A Comedy
                                                                  Even the spirit of truth, whom
                                                           the world cannot receive because
                                                        it seeth him not, neither knoweth him
                                                                                           John, Chapter 14, Verse 17.
Each person’s destiny is his own
His road before him lies:
This one builds up, that one tears down,
And that cast greedy eyes
O’er all the earth, to find somewhere
A land not yet enslaved,
Which he could conquer and then bear
With him into the grave.
Read the entire poem here:

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