Dear Ukraine,


What have they done to you? What have they done to your clear blue skies, your snow-white clouds, your fragrant wheat, your fertile soil? Your clouds shed tears. Their mists enshroud the exploding shells; their rains seek to extinguish the flaming rockets that pierce your soul. Your land is soaked in the blood of heroic sons, brave daughters and innocent babes, all silent. They have written your name in the annals of Eternal Glory.

Your courage and invincibility have woken humanity from their ignorant sleep. They sense your bitter pain and weep with the clouds. This is an age-old, millennial pain. These are the tears of centuries, tears for values lost, for mercy and spirituality destroyed by evil and violence. These are the tears of the ancient Memory of History, mourning the genocides of Khojaly, Aghdaban, Van, Khatyn, Srebrenica, the Holocaust.

Defend yourself, valiant Ukraine! This war for your native land, for your freedom, is the most holy of wars—it is a Just War against oppression and violence! It is a battle of bullets against clouds, fists against tears. A heavenly clash to change the earth and mankind, a holy war of life and death in the name of humanity.

Do not lose heart, brave brother! This river of tears is flowing to your courageous sons, to your babes lost beneath the missile strikes, to your cities turned into mute ruins. It is washing away evil, falsehood, scum.

Do not grieve, sister! We too hear the silent sorrow of your brilliant sons—Gogol, Bulgakov, Dovzhenko, your patriotic daughter Lesya Ukrainka—as their wounded souls wander the silent streets of Kyiv at dusk. We too feel the pain that permeates the lines of your great poet Taras Shevchenko, his selfless filial love for you, his wonder and pride in your courageous, unshakeable, free spirit.


Afag Masud

People’s Writer of Azerbaijan




by Taras Shevchenko

Translated by Alexander J. Motyl


When I die,

let me rest, let me lie

amidst Ukraine’s broad steppes.

Let me see

the endless fields and steep slopes

I hold so dear.

Let me hear

the Dnipro’s great roar.

And when the blood 

of Ukraine’s foes flows

into the blue waters of the sea,

that’s when I’ll forget

the fields and hills

and leave it all 

and pray to God.

Until then, I know no God.

So bury me, rise up,

and break your chains.

Water your freedom 

with the blood of oppressors.

And then remember me

with gentle whispers

and kind words

in the great family 

of the newly free.