The Lost Manuscript

Already manuscripts are burning, / and the snow from Chornobyl is flying

Image of Dmytro Kremin

If you burn the Kyiv library,
not the one at Alexandria, they’ll forgive you . . . 
And the black snow and the white crows—
they are already in flight from Chornobyl.
Kyiv, Kyiv, Kyiv—is not Athens.
But here, too, are Mongols and Saracens.
And the black ashes of Ukraine.
And smoke from Dante’s tercets.
It’s snowing in Koncha. A recruit
of freedom and honesty
is bowing his head and weeping.
To burn a manuscript is to try to prove
that we have never existed in the world.
And what bitter trouble you have gotten into—
and how silent history will be about it all.
Already manuscripts are burning,
and the snow from Chornobyl is flying,
and a woman is sowing seeds of marigolds
in the middle of a fierce winter,
and suicidal birds are crying
so that we will remain. As a people . . . 

Translated from Ukrainian by Svetlana Ischenko and Russell Thornton

Dmytro Kremin
Dmytro Kremin was one of the leading poets of Ukraine. Born in in 1953, Kremin published twenty collections of poetry and received an array of awards for his writing and overall contribution to Ukrainian culture. Poems from the Scythian Wild Field, translated by Svetlana Ischenko and Russell Thornton, is available in English. He died in 2019.

Join our community

Dear Readers,

For years, experts have raised the alarm about political polarization. It’s been said the left and right can’t talk to each other. Blame the political climate. Blame the rise of tech platforms and social media algorithms. But we don’t talk enough about the difference in the quality of the information that we receive and share.

As more and more media outlets die and as parts of Canada become “news deserts,” there are two types of citizens emerging: those with access to high-quality, fact-based journalism, like the kind you’ll find in The Walrus, and those without it.

One thing all reliable media outlets have in common: it takes time and adequate funding to produce good journalism.

If you like reading The Walrus, we ask that you consider becoming a monthly supporter. Your donation helps us keep The Walrus’s fact-checked online journalism free to all.

Jessica Johnson
Jessica Johnson