The Cossack is dying, the maiden crying:
"Let me stay beside you, deep in earth I would be lying!"
"O if you are truly such a faithful maiden,
Then become a guelder-rose with snowy blossom laden.
Dew that in the morning on the mowing settles
Shall not weigh upon my grave but on your flowing tresses.
When the hot sun scorches and the blossom blanches
Heat shall not dry up my bones but shrivel your green branches."
"O my sweet, how can it give you any pleasure
That I glow so red when I feel sorrow beyond measure?
O my sweet, how can it be a cause for gladness
That I blossom when my heart is full of gall and sadness?
Will the grave be dearer to you, my beloved,
If I am a green tree rising silently above it?"
"Even my own mother could not grieve so deeply
As you grieve for me, my guelder-rose tree was already growing.
People with small children came and stood there gazing,
Never had they seen before a wonder so amazing:
"Who is it lies buried here beside the highway
Where a guelder-rose is blossoming in frost so spryly?
See its green and slender leaves there twisting, curling,
And the blood-red berries in its snowy blossom stirring!"
In reply the guelder-rose its leaves uncovered:
"Why must I be silent at the side of my beloved?
O the tree is silent while the axe is swinging,
When the man cuts deeply, then the tree is singing.
First a branch he severs, then a pipe he's playing,
With an arrow from the guelder-rose his heart assailing."
Lesia Ukrainka (1871 – 1913) Ukraine
Real name: Larysa Petrivna Kosach-Kvitka
Translated by Peter Tempest