Borys Oliynyk

Rookie (1935, October 22 / Zachepylivka, Poltava region)

My Debt - Poem by Borys Oliynyk

I am in debt,
that I was born Ukrainian:
That fate was in merry mood, when oft she sings,
And has bestowed on me the earth and water,
And an azure sky, like a pair of wide-spread wings.

My good black earth, as fertile as a woman.
Even old history stood amazed meanwhile.
For only we, it seems,
on such golden hay-fields
Have a sickle at hand and ready
forged from a smile.

Call at my village. You need no better Eden:
The pond. The May-bugs. The green song of the pines.
The moon so young and wearing her new diadem.
The gift of a wondrous land beyond all times.

My Cossack Sich was rich, not in drunken gatherings,
But mighty sons, and when caught up in the strife,
In panic Europe floundered before the enemy,
I sent my sons to death,
that the land might survive.

My blood is strong. And hotter than fire a-blazing.
And truly not in vain the Tartar flood
So harshly sucked the fire out of our maidens,
To freshen their already autumn-cool blood.

My humming plots their strenuous sap are driving
Into the melon, potato, and onion spheres.
Come in and choose, if yours have not been thriving.
Come in at the door.
Through the window you've already peered.

The whole world's debtor am I. Not all were given
Such filtered singing wine as mine, just see -
I'll entertain you - drink, and strength recover,
Get a little merry - enough for you and me.

Not everyone received in his lot such an evening,
Persistent longing, yearning to reach the sky.
That was I who gave Korolyov to this planet.
May you also reach to vistas endless and high.

No, I have not chosen a role Messianic.
All I have, and all
that in my days
I have received from fate, the eternal sower,
I bring to the common mill, to help always.

It's happiness to have in the world-wide dwelling
Your duties and your place of work at hand…
The whole world's debtor am I.
But to one indebted
I was not. Am not. Won't be.
By that I stand.

Poet's Notes about The Poem

Translated by Walter May

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, August 9, 2012

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