A Cottage

Translated by C. H. Andrusyshen and Watson Kirkconnell

Perhaps my mother prayerless trod
Nor knelt on my behalf to God,
But brought me up to what I am
As naturally as a lamb,
Just murmuring: "Let him grow at length
To manhood, full of health and strength!"
I have, thank God, grown up indeed,
But little value can I plead.
'Twere better I had not been born,
Or had been drowned, a thing of scorn,
That I should not, 'mid alien nations,
Offend God with my imprecations.

And it was little, not too much
I begged of God: a little hutch,
A tiny cottage in a grove
With two tall poplars branched above;
And by me that unhappy maid
My own Oksana, sweet and staid,
That we from hilltops might look down
On the broad Dnieper, gullies brown,
And on the fields of golden wheat
And the high mounds of old defeat,—
To gaze on them, and muse, and sigh:
When were those barrows reared so high?
And who lies buried there so long?
Together we would start a song,
A mournful, ancient elegy
About that hetman, brave and free,
Whom Poles once roasted in a fire.
Then from the hill we would retire
And in a grove beside the stream
Would wander till the day's last gleam,
Till all God's creatures slumber soon,
Till both the evening star and moon
Above the hilltop co-exist
And o'er the meadows drive the mist.
Upon that sight we'd gaze with prayer
And cheerfully conversing there
Turn to the food our cot affords.

O God, Thou givest to our lords
Rich orchards in Thy paradise
And palaces to please their eyes,
But in the greed their hearts uplift
They spit upon Thy gracious gift
And would compel my soul to grovel
If I should watch them from my hovel.

A cottage in that paradise
Was all I begged, and still would prize,
And near the Dnieper's bank to rest
On one low hill without a crest.

                    1850, Orenburg