Pavlo Tychyna
The Raspberry's Eyelash
Translated and edited by Steve Komarnyckyj

January 2012. 120 pp. ISBN-13 978-3-901993-36-7
£10.50 (+ 2.00 p&p), €13.00 (+ 2.50 p&p), US$ 18.00 (+ 3.00 p&p)
 

Komarnyckyj's attentive treatment of Tychyna's poems reads like a symphony. The transcendent ideals of a twentieth-century poet's struggle during Eastern Europe's transition into Communism are channeled through Komarnyckyj's keen ear. Tychyna's themes are adapted to an English audience through a patient sensitivity to word choice with a rhythm that makes the poems resonate long after they have been read.

Komarnyckyj's lyrical tympani portrays Tychyna's desire for peace and open criticism of a changing country's identity through a dialogue that outlines consequence and celebrates being. He succeeds in sharing Tychyna's sympathetic depth of character, while remaining linguistically buoyant. These translations skilfully embody the beauty and endurance of nature coupled with the human spirit. Prepare to be moved.

John Gosslee


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Excerpts from The Raspberry's Eyelash

War

I
Here they are, the ineffectual angels
Wobbling before me, each transparent flame:
One hears, one sees, and one knows everything.

They draw back and the dark
Is populous with half-formed shapes,
Ghosts scrawled on slate.

I can make them out.
A soldier lies in the grass,
An angel veils in his eyes.

Beyond them the field waves goodbye.
The second angel crosses himself.
His hands are empty.

The third angel whispers, "Do not grieve.
He died for Ukraine, he shall live

As grass that awakens always, renewed love."

II
The sun and moon softly
Glow through the twilight sky,
The first star peeps shyly
As he says goodbye
And his mother whispers,
"Beware of the enemy."

He looks at her sadly
Saying, "What enemy?
The human heart only
Is the enemy
And who can find the cure
For our humanity?"

I made the sign of the cross,
Around me the emptiness
Of the imagined loss,
That and the grass
Where the crows cawed
In the dusk. And the first stars.

"What should I say ..."

What should I say but the spring
Has opened a door in the sky
For light to pour in.
We walk through it,
Soft waves, roughly knee height,
Whispering.

Wrapped in a brittle silence
Until we hear the cuckoo ...
Its two-note song opens
A symphony,
Through the distance we
Listen as it sings.

"So the stars"

So the stars shine and fall,
So night passes
And on the Eastern horizon
The last light
Is a sword.

So they come with songs and hammers
(Motif
Locomotive!)
And they are met by factories,
The welcome of rye and waters.

If they are tired they will be embraced,
If they fall,
They fall again, to sleep,
Their bodies fragrant
With dew, sweat.


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