Sonnet for Shevchenko

YOU called the yearning soul of man “Ukraine”

    And raised your heart to hunger’s unwashed sky;

    You made your sacred hymn the Cossack’s cry,

And tuned your kobza to your country’s pain.


You saw your father scourged by serfdom’s chain,

    But gleaned sweet music from his final sigh;

    The steppe, the Dnieper, filled your painter’s eye,

When you looked out upon your lonely plain.


Shevchenko!  Wild as wind, in fetters free,

    Your kinsfolk now shed blood on their own sod

        To die as pawns of Western puppet-tsars;


Last of the Kobzars, last with eyes to see,

    Raise up, raise up, the people’s voice to God,

        And write their ancient glory in the stars!

© Joseph Charles MacKenzie. All rights reserved.