Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
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Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
 
The Battlefield
By Florence Randal Livesay, trans.
 
From “Old Folk Songs of Ukraina”

BLACK, oh, black was once the plowing—hai, hai!
The black plowland they’re re-plowing
    And the sowing is of bullets.
Harrowed by the white, white body—hai, hai!—
    Washed with blood now is the plowing.        5
 
On a hillock lies a warrior—hai, hai!
Lies the warrior on a hillock,
    Red kitaika on his eyelids—
Red, how red! A silken kerchief—hai, hai!—
    Blinds his eyes, the red kitaika.        10
 
Here’s no coffin, here’s no grave-hole—hai, hai!
Here’s no coffin, here’s no grave dug;
    Here’s no father and no mother,
No one to set bells a-tolling—hai, hai!—
    Ne’er a one to ring the death-knell.        15
 
Only hoofs of horses ringing—hai, hai!
Only hoofs of horses ringing,
    With the jingling spurs of comrades.
Only horse’s hoof a-ringing—hai, hai!—
    Only jingling spur of comrade.        20
 
From a strange land swift a crow flies—hai, hai!
From a strange land swift a crow flies—
    On the grave-hill it is sitting:
Drinking of dead eyes it sits there—hai, hai!—
    Of the dead eyes it is drinking.        25
 
And a mother walks and calls there—hai, hai!
Calling, crying, roams the mother,
    For her dead son ever looking.
“Oi, I know thy son, thy dear son—hai, hai!—
    For on him I have been feasting.”        30
 
“Wilt thou tell me of thy kindness”—hai, hai!—
“Little crow, I pray thee tell me
    If my dear son be yet living?
Are his eyes as gray as ever?”—hai, hai!
    “Are his lips red as kalina?”        35
 
“Blue and cold now are his red lips—hai, hai!
Blue already are the red lips;
    Black with death his hair is lying;
On his face I have been perching—hai, hai!
    And his eyes I have been drinking!”        40
 
 
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