So they drift like drowsy, gigantic lions, the silhouettes
Of those heavy stone prisons rooted in soil,
And at night the prisoners are visited by lovers and comets,
And the moon, a bronze spider crawls slowly on the wall.
When words are worn to dust, it is vain to confess to the stars,
The stars where, as on these walls, there are mould and worms,
Painted green with dankness,
But the moon washes the faces of prisoners with its chill blue lustre,
Faces that, like the round platter of a sheared trunk,
Have overnight sprouted a pelt of moss!
The unctuous subterranean river, a nightmarish herb,
Writhes with moist stars and serpents,
The valleys of the moon, dense with walnut forests,
Where for a hundred days and nights the bronze rain and lamenting gales come,
The water bearing stars washes away the prison walls.
Where stone no longer stands on stone and the mountains are levelled.
The builders of walls raise a new prison from their straw hats
Abrim with flowers.
Beneath the gallows bloom purple mandragoras.
The rope of hanged men brings the living happiness.
Bohdan Ihor Antonych, translated by Stephen Komarnyckyj. First published on And Other Stories with the support of the Michalski Foundation. In May 2016 Kalyna Language Press was awarded a PEN Translates grant to finance Steve Komarnyckyj's translations of Antonych. The book, Night Music, was published on 5 October 2016 and is available through all good bookshops, amazon, and numerous other outlets. Click here to read more and find out about a few places where you can buy the book.
Publication Date: 5 October 2016