Monday, April 4, 2016

Lina Kostenko

Poet Hero: Lina Kostenko
by Yaroslava from Kiev

Last month, on the birthday of Ukrainian poet Lina Kostenko, my friend Nataliya shared several beautiful lyric poems and translations. Nataliya explains: "Of course, the translation deviates from the original and loses in rhythm, expressive brevity, and some imagery. Nevertheless, I am going to share it here for my English speaking friends."

Restrain me, please, control yourself,
and help me do the same.

Such love can only happen once - in nevertime and nowhere.
It sweeps like raging storms - above the ruined days
And skylines follow it around from here to there.
Such love breaks peace and calm - up to the final string
It burns the daring words with fevered lips . . .
Bring me back to my senses and restraints
When I’m still reasoning at least
But not for long, I lost a clue
It’s now time for my belated evening glow
I either freeze my heart with you
Or burn in flames with you - blow high, blow low

Let’s put aside all matters that are pressing
Until I’ve seen enough of sun and green,
Have had long talks with all good folks.
It’s not the time that passes, we are passing . . .

Where’s love, there’s only light
Where sun is rising - darkness loses power
My lucid love, please glow till my last hour
Don’t let the winter ever in my heart

Three poems by Lina Kostenko, b. 19 March 1930
Translations by Nataliya Semchynska


Marusia Churai
See Comment Below. . .


  1. Lina wrote a poem about a legendary Ukrainian poetess from 1600s Marusia Churay, who died young but composed songs that are still sang today and in many cases considered folk. Here is more about Marusia

  2. From Natasha, Nataliya: here is another one from Lina Kostenko and a basic meaning translation (to be polished yet and get a poetic form back):

    It happens: you’re going in the world,
    And somebody has passed you in a way
    Like carrying an armful of flowers
    And gives you a half of them.

    The stems are still warm from the hands
    You turn back to look at the person from a distance
    And realize – with one more sunray your land
    Became suddenly richer.