Cover Image for I wish this stream would carry me away

I wish this stream would carry me away

trans. by Iryna Shuvalova
Issue Two

The poem ‘I wish this stream would carry me away’ was first published in 1901 and then reappeared in the collection On the Wings of Songs (Na krylakh pisen, 1904). According to the translator Iryna Shuvalova, ‘The image of Ophelia, for instance, signals Ukrainka’s familiarity with the Western classics, as well as revealing her Neoromantic fascination with what in her time would be described as the Western canon. Besides, this 1900 poem’s elegant versification shows Ukrainka at the height of her creative powers. Her wave-like stanzas drifting away in melancholic ellipses are a perfect mirror of her lyrical heroine’s growing detachment from the world’.


I wish this stream would carry me away.
I’d drift on it, insane, adorned with blossoms,
Just like Ophelia. My songs would float with me.
We’d move along the gently swaying waters
away, away…


The river would embrace me,
its waves so light and tender.
I would sleep
asway, asway…


Surrendering, I’d let
The river take me, carry me, enfold me.
So I would float, my song a gentle whisper,
And sink under the clear and soothing waters,
awash, awash…


The waves would only bear
A faint and muffled echo of my singing,
As if a ballad from the ancient times
Was being recounted, but its words relaying
Some bloody deeds and sorrowful affairs
Were lost to time. Indeed, that song was written
So long ago…


Then, there would be no trace
Of me and of my songs, but for some blossoms
That’d sway and bobble, clearly in no hurry
To join me at the river bottom. No,
They’d float until they reached some quiet pond
Where they would drift among the water lilies.
A weeping willow would be leaning low
Above the sleepy waters, and no wind
Would dare disturb that hidden little haven.
But raining softly from the gentle skies
Over the blooms I picked in my derangement
Would come eternal peace…

3 December 1900


Read in Ukrainian.

Image: Anna Lea Merritt, Ellen Terry as Ophelia [detail], c. 1880. Etching. © The Trustees of the British Museum (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

Cover Image for Ukrainian Cassandras

Ukrainian Cassandras

Issue Two

Thirty-one years since Ukraine regained its independence, and six months to the day since Russia escalated its eight-year long war to engulf the entire country, it is high time to hear and believe ‘Ukrainian Cassandras’.

Olesya Khromeychuk and Sasha Dovzhyk
Cover Image for Cassandra


Issue Two

The winner of the Ukrainian Literature in Translation Prize run by the Ukrainian Institute London in 2021 is Nina Murray’s excerpt from Lesia Ukrainka’s poetic drama Cassandra (written in 1907). In this play, the author chooses to tell one of the keystone myths of western culture, the story of the siege of Troy, from the point of view of a woman, the Trojan princess and prophet Cassandra. For the translator, Lesia Ukrainka’s exploration of the credibility of a woman as a producer of knowledge remains ‘highly relevant and compelling’.

trans. by Nina Murray