Vasyl Stus: poems in English
The chamber opera Stus: Passerby has 12 poems by the Ukrainian poet that form the basis of 10 musical compositions.

English translator:
Oleksandr Fraze-Frazenko
Oleksandr Fraze-Frazenko
Film director, clipmaker, music producer, writer.
Lviv / New York
Co-founder of "OFF Laboratory" film company. He became famous for his feature-length documentaries about Ukrainian modernist poets, in particular: "Chubai" (2014), "House in the Seven Winds" (2015), "Aquarium in the Sea" (2016). Author of ten poetry books.

Translator and compiler of the first Ukrainian-language book of poems by Jim Morrison ("Selected Poems", 2013).

Oh human, I cannot believe your life is...

Oh human, I cannot believe your life is

just all about looking into my cell?

Does not your life call you? I`m begging tell me

if you at least define somehow your life`s way

performing at this sadly joyless workplace

where everything is filled with human torture?

you always stand along my heavy sorrow

and I can feel your pain behind your posture,

because you are just twice as sad as I am

I have myself, and you are just a shadow

I am the good, you are the dust, decay

we are both prisoners, that`s what we have in common

on both sides of this door, I`m here, you`re there

We`re separated by these walls of law.

There grows the wall between the world and soul

There grows the wall between the world and soul

play hide and seek so they don't recognize you

through layers of the deadly memories

numb thoughts and ice floes of your senses

the spurs went into such a frozen soul

unwillingness just shortens the desire

for seeking wells, in which endure forever

the world to recognize you and to kill you

with all of its resistless deadly weight

there is the wind that blows souls out of bodies

breaks trees, bends grass along the way and even

creates a multifaceted emptiness

that is exhausted by its own improvement

such sadness everywhere! how many

fates are lost! how many carried on

down to the final breath, the final moan

to death. such sadness everywhere!

where grows the wall between the world and soul

We are your lovers, death, already

We are your lovers, death, already

life shines for us just through the fog

you should rejoice for now, my baby

when fields of skies are sown till dawn

the crimson music roaming here

on the sharp-witted top above

a cuckoo cheers, drunk with tears

she sings “cuckoo” `cause she knows how

we drank the juice of birch tonight

we drank the water from the river

long-bodied sycamores downriver

were slowly crunching in the ice

and swida was about to burn

pyrola ‘s rolling through the snow

the earth soared up on the ravine

she felt the fruit as it`s a sin

how good it is close to the forest

to lose a meadow path somehow

fall backwards for the skies above

I`m like a baby in a cradle

Self-portrait with a candle

You hold a candle `bove your head

until your hand is almost tired

not for the night – until you`re dead

the timid darkness, no more fire

bats fly like bullets in the night

my cheeks are frozen cold in fear

I cannot see you, cannot hear

how can you live without the skies?

they lifted eyes, those sleepy creatures

you`re not the one who`s resurrected

owl shouting echoing in niches

and Dante wanders here neglected

black little thing, my pointless beauty

I’ll be your target, will you shoot me?

the candle does not even blink

There is this silence. silence. dry and black

There is this silence. silence. dry and black

and gray doves drawing circles in the sky

dive into fortune telling, why the heck

is the night shrouded in darkness now

I think I even see agile soothsayers

they’re throwing cards in front of you so quickly

your faith is squared with blank and gloomy victims

they will to obey undoubtedly and strictly

a candlestick `s asleep. a candle sleeps in it

already flat, a butterfly, acanthus

between all that – your pain is like a diamond

the blinding eye of your despair. get up

do not erase gunpowder from the candle

it`s all about your fears you can`t handle

Into the darkness of my sleep I go

Into the darkness of my sleep I go
acerb oblivion water ‘s getting higher
the edge is getting closer so I look
into the emptiness of days and years
and think where is that edge from where
all those lost souls go back to the beginning
down to the valley of that fancy beauty
witch spreads all over with young blood like crazy
where do you go with all these naughty steps
you start to know yourself – relentless way
and you still step in someone’s steps for now
thin strip of years narrows down the way
it`s like your shadow that went towards you
it knows your future. here so it broke
this path of yours. abyss and dark. the end
go overboard. too hard for us to live
with this uncertainty, like halfway through
a step you took and never dropped your foot
feels like you just freeze up. the half-desire
your fluctuation cut just halfway through
you see the margins for the hills of patience
you see invisible and bolded spaces
oh god what if those spaces would discern
how small we people are? what feels a mountain
regarding just another mountain, what?
what can we do? the endless time between us
those boring distances of life between us,
when shades of inspiration fade away,
these storms of passions incinerated,
they filled our lives all of a sudden,
I want to go beyond the time
I want to start this life all over
I want to witness the beginning
why would I wait until I die,
the hills of fate, the highlands of the cry,
that first cry that became a breakthrough cry,
which broke the certainty of dumbness and decay!
oh, those unbearable outbursts of all!
oh, those unstoppable attacks of fear,
that daring will for self-escape,
that will to burn alive to death,
that freezing will of a patient waits,
that feel that never is enough,
move on, move on, those boundless forces,
you`re young, your pain inside moves you ahead,
your effort is the thing; it pushes you
to dream how things would go tomorrow,
and then you fall, it feels like death,
and then you suffer like you never did,
you are a tiny flower on the wind,
oh there you are, uncertainty of mine,
I take this road where hearts will meet each other,
my heart is yours, your blood is mine,
let’s hear how birds will sing tonight,
how ground will meet the sky, that line,
just close your eyes, the secret is
about to open up for you,
don`t be afraid, don`t run away,
I know, it`s hard to heal the pain
for me and you…

The wheels, the wheels, they hit the road

The wheels, the wheels, they hit the road

feels like a ferry hits a wave

hey Charon, here we are, my friend,

we bring some laugh and pain.

the wheels, they hit, the wheels, they hit,

they roll us somewhere else,

we`ll never be back home again,

we`ll never see that place.

the wheels, the wheels, they hit the road,

the wheels, the wheels, they hit,

oh Jes, oh Chief, and all the gods

and all the goddamn shit,

and Moscow, and the Bear hill,

and everything we pass,

this is our prison path,

it`s swollen with our tears.

and Vyatka, Kotlas, and Ust-Wym,

Chibyu, we drive a lot.

this is The Prison Union Land

the land that God forgot.

forgotten by the Devil too,

another god `s in charge,

the marxist, racist human-eater

the mouth is large.

from Moscow to Chibyu we go

to the internment camp,

that`s how we build a better future

with blood and bones again.

You want to escape destiny? no way,

You want to escape destiny? no way,

the thunder hits, your life just goes away.

and here you are, like a nightmare come to life,

the death of life, the life of death defined.

what can I do? at least I think I`ll try

to verify the gold of love and would

your loved ones go with you no matter what?

if can they realize and recognize

that this is you, you, after all that life?

would they be afraid of you? of that

what you`ve become? oh please, how can I know…

this life got such a crazy way to go,

those winds had taken you away, you know,

but you succeed, my faith, thank god.

the stronger wind, the less you fear it.

I wanna die so badly!

I wanna die so badly!
I can not be quiet,
I can not be crying,
the one last lightning,
I want it this morning,
get up for the last time,
this day gonna end it,
I`ll wait it and die!
and never go come back,
the deepness of peace,
the silence will lull,
the song that will clamp
my heart one last time.
I cannot breathe,
I just wanna die!
all dreams went away,
all thoughts went away,
all laughs went away,
all colors – away.
it`s hungry like chasm,
this vertical trail,
I cannot go up,
or even look there,
I feel I just can`t,
my body all pains,
it tightens my throat
in this only scream,
let sound get me up
I just wanna die!
I just cannot stand,
I just cannot wait,
the abyss is there,
the patience is here,
I suffer so badly,
oh God let me die!
or just disappear,
to die in this screams,
to fall into pieces,
to flow with the wind,
to become lost in time,
and snatching the soul
and go to unnamed!
the destiny hills passed
and snow is all over,
cannot see the road,
the blizzard is crazy,
the hands of my mother,
I saw it this morning,
they hang in the air,
they`re gropingly searching
the ghost of her son,
the birthmark on his face,
shrunken hunched sloping shoulders.
I just wanna die!
get in unnoticed
beyond hope
beyond the horizon of intolerance
the walls of prostration
behind bars of rage
behind fences of rage
behind vines of screams
spikes of obsession
to lay down
in the silent snows
somewhere between the mounds
of the missing souls.
I wanna die so badly!

In this blue field, as blue as flax,

In this blue field, as blue as flax,

you are alone, and no one else around you,

and suddenly you`ve seen someone pass,

one hundred shadows, blue as flax.

and in this field, as blue as flax,

you had to be alone, just lonely,

to realize your fate is a redemption,

in this blue field, as blue as flax.

one hundred shadows start to grow

all of a sudden they are like the woods

they start to go just toward you.

oh should I run? what should I do?

or should I stay? that`s right, I think I`ll stay.

and only here, only in this field,

as blue as flax, I`ll be enslaved right here

don`t feel like home in here anymore,

in this blue field, as blue as flax,

you are alone, one hundred are against you,

and each of them is filled with grief,

and each of them will never stop

to curse you like you never heard before,

like throwing stones at you, and every word

is burned with loneliness of yours

and finally you`re going slightly mad

in this blue field, as blue as flax.

What are you waiting for?

What are you waiting for oh tell me what

if someone `s gonna come this early morning?

if there is someone you would like to meet?

and if you would, would you believe it?

there is a dead end of the inner world,

there is a woman, she is filled with thoughts,

she`s whispering: god bless this place,

oh god please bless this goddamn place.

I also see some distant foreign land,

the field and the viburnum tree, it`s burning,

and also there`s the grave. Ukraine is crying

over its son's head: farewell my son.

there are two enemies of yours, they try to cry,

so hard for them to imitate the grief,

they are just glad that guy has never loved

Ukraine, its land, its skies, for nothing

she cries for him, her shadow bends in grief,

because of that the emptiness just spreads

beyond this field, and everything you get,

you hear the echoes of the frozen depths


oh evil demon whom

you curse, you curse, you curse?

whom do you call inside yourself?

your broken fate? a piece of warmth

under the ashes of those times?

whom are you waiting for? not sure

you`ll wait until you`ll say: we`re done.

you give. you take.

Be patient, patient, `cause the patience grinds you

Be patient, patient, `cause the patience grinds you,

your spirit turns to steal, so you be patient.

`cause no one `s gonna save you from the trouble,

and no one ever `d make you change your mind.

stick to the plan, you keep it to the end,

the world would end you`ll be the last man standing,

highway to hell or stairway to the heaven,

you gotta stand, you gotta do your thing.

you go your way, the way you chose to be yours,

the way chose you and it`s forever.

it started when you were a young boy,

God himself told you to do so.