Taras shevchenko – haidamaki (continuation)


The nobles once ruled Poland’s roost,
A very haughty lot;
With Muscovites they measured swords,
The Turk and Tatar fought,
And Germans too…. Yes, once ’twas so….
But all things pass away.
The high-born braggarts used to strut,
And drink both night and day,
And with their kings play ducks and drakes.
Not with Sobieski Jan,
Nor yet Batory: those two were
Not of the common run –
But with the rest. And they, poor souls,
In fear and trembling ruled.
The conclaves, big and little, fumed,
And Poland’s neighbours viewed
A spectacle – how Polish kings
The Polish kindom fled,
And listened how the noble mob
The sejms brought to an end.
“Nie pozwalam! Nie pozwalam!”
The haughty nobles roared,
While the big magnates stoked up fires
And tempered well their swords.
This lasted for a lengthy time
Until to Warsaw-town
The lively Poniatowski came
To occupy the throne
And undertook to some degree
The noble breed to squelch….
He failed! He wanted what was best,
Or maybe something else.
Only their veto – that one phrase
To take from them he sought.
And then…. All Poland burst in flames,
The gentry ran amok….
“The king’s a villain, scoundrel vile,
A Moscow tool!” they cry.
At Pac’s appeal, Pulawski’s call
The Polish nobles rise.
A hundred leagues – Confederates –
All Poland they inflamed,
Lithuania they overran,
Moldavia, Ukraine;
They scattered wide and they forgot
That freedom was their aim –
They joined with Jews in compact foul
To rob and devastate.
They ran mad riot through the land,
They churches set ablaze….
The Haidamaki then began
To sanctify their blades.


Throughout Ukraine the clang of bells
Proclaims the day of doom;
The Haidamaki fiercely, yell:
“The gentry’s end has come!
The gentry’s finished! We shall set
A fire to sear the sky!”
The very clouds are painted red –
The province is on fire.
Medvedivka’s the first to burn
And heat the clouds above.
Smila is next, the country ’round
Well-nigh aflood with blood.
Korsun and Kaniv are ablaze,
Cherkassy, Chigirin;
Along the Highway spread the flames
As far as the Volyn,
And blood flows freely. Gonta’s made
Polissya his domain,
While near Smila bold Zaliznyak
Tests his Damascus blade –
In old Cherkassy, where his dirk
That has been sanctified,
Yarema, too, tries out. “Good work!
The mad dogs all must die!
Good work, my lads!” so Zaiiznyak
Shouts in the market-place
Which now’s a hell; and through that hell
The Haidamaki race.
Yarema – a blood-curdling sight –
In battle-frenzy fells
Three-four at once. “Good work, my boy!
Their souls be damned to hell!
Kill, kill! You’ll either win high rank,
Or go to paradise!
Now, children, ferret out the rats!”
The rebels in a trice
Spread out to cellars, attics, nooks
To search for hiding foes;
They killed them all, all goods they took.
“Now you may stop, my boys!
You’ve tired yourselves, now rest a bit.”
The market squares and lanes,
With corpses strewn, are flowing red.
“More vengeance yet we claim!
Go over them a second time
To make sure, doubly sure,
That the vile dogs will never rise,
And never plague us more!”
The Haidamaki after that
Assemble in the square.
Yarema on the outskirts stands.
“Come closer, don’t be scared,”
Shouts Zaliznyak. “I’m not afraid!”
With cap in hand he comes
Up to the chief. “Where from, my lad?”
“Vilshana is my home.”
“Vilshana? Where the villains slew
The warden of the church?”
“What’s that? They slew?”
“His daughter, too,
According to reports,

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Taras shevchenko – haidamaki (continuation)