In Prison: V Kalina (The Cranberry)
Translated by Florence Randal Livesay
Why dost thou visit the grave-hill?
Why weepest thou; where goest thou?
Like a grey dove at night thou moanest."
"It is nothing, my Mother, nothing... "
And she went to the hill again,
While, weeping, the mother waited.
That is not Herb-o'-Dreams *
Blooming at night on the grave;
A betrothed maiden Kalina plants,
Waters it with her tears,
"O God, send rain at night,
So that Kalina
May bud forth.
Perhaps my lover
From the other world
Lo, there I'll make a nest
And I myself
Shall fly to it,
And we shall sing together
On the bough.
Yea, we shall weep and sing
And murmur low–
Together we shall in the dawning wing
Our flight to other worlds."
And the Kalina grew,
Spreading forth branches green...
Three years she visited the grave –
The fourth year dawned.
That is not Herb-o'-Dreams
That blooms at night.
It is a weeping girl
Who to Kalina speaks:
"O my Kalina, broad and tall,
Watered before the sunset...
–Nay, but broad tear-rivers
Drenched thy roots.
And to these rivers coward-talk,
Whisp'ring, would give ill-fame.
My girl companions look askance at me
And they neglect Kalina.
Deck now my head,
Wash it with dew.
Cover me from the sun
With thy broad branches
Then they will find me, bury me.
Mocking at me;
And thy broad branches
Children will tear off."
At sundown in Kalina's leaves
A bird was singing.
Under the bush a young girl lies,
She sleeps, she sleeps, nor will arise.
Tired, the youthful one. She rests for ever.
The Sun rose over the hill;
Rose the folk joyfully
From happy slumbers.
But all, all the long night through
A mother slept not.
Weeping, she could see
The vacant place at table,
Lone in the dusk,
And she wept bitterly.
1847, St. Petersburg
* "The Dream Herb" (a species of anemone) is in Ukraine considered as something weird and uncanny. It is called Son-travà, literally Dream-grass, and has a flower like a little bell. Maidens pluck it to place under their pillows in early spring, that they may dream of their lovers. But by the rest of the world it is regarded with awe and superstitious fears.