The Neoromantic Forest Song (Lisova pisnia) is the most famous of Lesia Ukrainka’s poetic dramas, first published in 1912. The translator Eriel Vitiaz presents a selected passage about dreams drawing attention to the ability of the Forest Song’s heroine ‘to paint mesmerising pictures with words, pictures that show us glimpses of a different world where everything is more vibrant, more pronounced, and (in a way) more real’.
Lake, forest, rush were all asleep.
The willow creaked, ‘Sweet dreams, sweet dreams…’
And in my quiet sleep it seemed that all was white.
The world was made of cleanliness and light.
Clear diamonds glittered there on silver boughs,
And nameless grasses were all pale with flowers,
Like icy crystals, stars were falling, piling up in drifts,
And, dazzled by my winter gifts, I was asleep.
My breath was slow and deep,
And yet, my wandering thought
Wove crimson patterns in my mind and wrought
Blue fantasies with streaks of gold,
Unlike those summer dreams I had of old.
Image: Olena Kulchytska, Winter, 1911. Coloured linocut. Source: www.photo-lviv.in.ua