A Short Poetic History of Ukraine

In far off lands in days gone by
Our Slavic kin did live and die.

They broke the ground and planted crops
From endless steppes to hilly tops.

The land was rich, its bounty fair
And life was good, beyond compare.

And yet we know, it is a fact
That bounty does the thief attract.

From north and east and south they came
Pillage, rape and waste their game.

Much blood was shed and sorrow sown
Good times were gone and peace unknown.

And so they struggled to survive
To keep their way of life alive.

They learned they needed something more
The arts, and skills, and ways of war.

So Viking chiefs they did enlist
Joined Nordic heart with Slavic fist.

No longer would they bear abuse
They forged the sword of Kyiv Rus.

They grew in strength and learned to fight
And made the Slavic tribes unite.

The kingdom grew, its fame did spread
Its daughters were to princes wed.

They sought a future civilized
And so they had the Rus baptized.

With rulers great, the land was blessed;
They forged new ties with Europe west.

Alas this glory could not last
The golden era soon was past.

The blow it came from distant east
With Batu Khan, the Mongol beast.

So holy Rus met sword and fire
Its present ruined, its future dire.

From there the years did come and go
Each one the bringer of more woe.

The Poles came conquering from the west
The north, the Muscovites did wrest.

And from the southern, hazy murk
Came Tatars and the mighty Turk.

For centuries they bore the yoke
Of fortune’s cruel and unjust joke.

Then from Subotiv there arose
A hetman great from head to toes.

Khmelnitsky raised a Kozak host
Whose deeds even today we boast.

Strength and courage were not lacking
Soon they sent the Poles a packing.

A Kozak nation thus was born
Undying loyalty was sworn.

But cruel fate again came calling
Kozak heads once more were falling.

This time it was the Russian foe
The Kozaks had nowhere to go.

O poor Ukraine, how harsh your fate
The victim of fraternal hate.

They bore the yoke for centuries more
Until the end of the Great War.

Once more they rose, for freedom fought
Alas, again, it was for naught.

The Russian Reds imposed their will
They did not hesitate to kill.

Freedom was once more denied
Millions suffered, millions died.

And though their spirit took a hit
They never, ever did submit.

And when the Commie beast did die
Blue and yellow once more did fly.

Our history of a thousand years
Is filled with pain and blood and tears,

But have no doubt, we will be free
Ukraine was, is, and will always be.

Walter Kish