Nadiia Vyshnevska



In the time of the military aggression that continues to devastate the country, especially through six month February – August 2022, Ukrainian poets create a powerful layer of literature that expresses the deep pain of the entire nation. Here we present selected poems of seven Ukrainians living these hard times when war is at arm’s length.

Nadiia Vyshnevska is a Ukrainian translator and lecturer at the Department of Oriental Studies named after Professor Yaroslav Dashkevych at the University of Lviv. Currently stationed in France, Nadiia has gathered the poems and translated them for Upplitt Magasin.

Dark ploughland‘s furrowed, hey, hey,
Dark ploughland has furrowed
With bullets it has sowed as well
by bright body soil is loosen, hey, hey,
by bright body soil is loosen
with blood rinsed as well
brave man lays down on the hill, hey, hey,
brave man lays down on the hill
his eyes covered with blue silk…
Mykhailo OleksandrovychMaksymovych 1804-1873.Portrait by Pyotr Borel

Ukrainian folk song ed. Mykhailo Maksymovych (1834)


a new day opens its jaws

to swallow us up

and we stuff it

with crushed reinforced concreat

and we laugh laugh laugh

we sing at the burials of other people’s dreams

we make spells over bombs

we dance in the phosphorus rain

we invent a new language

because there is lack ow words in this one

no words for telling the truth

about all that we lived through

about everything that was felt

and the most important

words about all that we don’t feel anymore.

all the words are gone

time to compose some

water absorbs sound

the pain consumes us

pebbles in hand

ring softly

like children’s laughter

pebbles sink into the ground

pebbles grow deep

to the ancient roots

well that is it

time has come

let the sleepwalking memory

wake up

let the shadows of forgotten ancestors

wake up

let the heavy song come up

through our throats

for those who have fallen on the field of battle

find their way home

for those who have fallen on the field of battle

stay with us



If he is a god of wrath, then I long

God’s blessing

Let him sing his hymn

Trampling the flag of humility

Smearing blood on his left cheek

He speaks to us without words

There is no right cheek left completely missed

There are visible only broken pieces of teeth

Through the wounded silence

You can hear his wheezing sick horn  

And the soul convulses

When it seems that the soul is gone

b. 1977 in Ivano-Frankivsk, studied in Kharkiv. Ukrainian musician, poet, actor, leader of “Orkestr Che” project, participant in “Mantry Kerouaca”, “Liniya Mannerheima” etc.


If I had braids long from here to there

So long to pull out people alive

From catacombs, ruins and shelters

So tight to fasten the braids on the hangmen’s necks,

So thick to muffle the songs of cannons with them,

So strong to tie demons to the pillars.

So solid to hide in them all big and smalls

So dark that the killers drowned in their fog.

If I only had magic braids like that

To make you come back alive to my side.

b. 1981 Astrakhan region, USSR. Ukrainian singer, journalist, composer, poetess, producer, frontwoman of the bands “Krykhitka Tsakhes” and “Krykhitka”, member of the National Public TV and Radio Company.



Sky was dripping with tears


And was snowing with white


If you feel such a deep


Melt to water the ice between


If you have in your hand


Make warmer somebody’s


Carry in yourself


Suns and the living


Shine yourself as long as


Love in your own


You have to teach each other


Like teaching prayers to


member of missionary Christian women order named Congregatio Sanctissimi Redemptoris


Mutilated blossom

Guilty of nothing

Will remain in buds in your eternity

Which tree will wind pick fruits

If fire burns the blossom

And world will disappear in germ of hopes

I’ve tried to speak up high

The words are heavy hard – the words come back

Here grew our garden up. It wasn’t paradise. So what?

Still our kids were bubbling  there

Birds were flying in between the branches and the blues

They didn’t know it hurts so much

And it can hurt much more

Oh perfect golden circle

Is the blossom genuinely indifferent for thou?

Really, can it be replaced in nature

One human being to another?

Even so simple creature

but it’s unique, it  wants to live

These twigs to the wind I throw

And hope, at least through the wind those twigs will grow


They didn’t ask for anything else, only cigarettes and energy drinks

She handed them cigarettes and energy drinks, and then blamed herself

For obeying, it is so risky to hand it and it is so unhealthy.

None of them died of an ulcer or a stroke, you know

None of them died of heart disease,

None of them fell asleep in the middle of the battle,

Everyone was conscious until he took the last drag on a cigarette

They left her sleepless

With an unhealthy habit of crying

b.1974 in Lviv. Ukrainian poetess, literary scholar, translator, member of National Writers’ Union of Ukraine.


Woman left dazed by a foreign sea

Her hair in mess, her sneakers damaged by walking too long,

She whispers a name with weathered lips

Locals think: the woman has lost her husband

But I’ve heard the name she is calling

This is not the name of a man, nor the child

She is standing by the sea and she calls the sea

But the sea although thinks she has lost her husband

Sea do not answer for calling it by the name unfamiliar, strange

Only bringing the shells and sharp stones

Only whispers in its own way, in sea language:

Hey woman, he will get back to you,

Your Azov.

(1986-2023), Ukrainian writer, a winner of the Joseph Conrad Literary Award, she was injured during the Russian attack

on Kramatorsk and died.



dead bodies give off a malodorous stink

forgotten abandoned useless

they’re so close to our trenches

they smell if they could they would scream and howl

just as pets locked up inside somebody’s apartments howl

days and nights

out of despair and loneliness

in fact the greatest achievement of the war

is to stand this odor after all

it is spread everywhere in the sky on the ground in the past and

the future at the bottom of the blindages and in passing of

the artillery shells overhead

tank gets armor damage by this smell and even

the words get hit so deeply when I text home that

I have to explain it is not my body odor

that’s the stink of the dead nearby

of course I smell like that and at least I seem like that

but I am not yet the source of this stink

it seems that only dead can withstand this stench

they are the real heroes of the war

nobody else can

we step back to another positions we

stayed so long whole three days

and four nights

at the bottom of this stench

but we are alive

or maybe not exactly

you have to die to drink to the bottom

relive your own scents of despair memories

fears and thoughts

tomorrow the enemy will go on the offensive

enemy will leave his dead in front of our


and everything will start again

a new cycle

of new battles

of new sufferings



The landscape of the peaceful forest usually changes


In this leisureliness located the epicenter of peace

And relaxed stability

If I wanted

Our relationship

Were like this forest

Pine forest

At least smell like it

How hard I wish

that at least one of us would survive this war

b. 1976 in Kyiv. Ukrainian sacred art painter, art

critic, poet and novelist, author of the Icons on Ammo Boxes art project (cooperation with

Sofia Atlantova).



And when she cries “I don’t know who I am anymore”,

Throwing  a sheaf of fire from her eyes,

I write on her collarbones “You’re alive like a fir needles,

You’re thorny like a stubble. And soft like a clay.

I want to write on her: “You’re both a rear and a weapon,

You’re a wound and a bandage, a doctor and a blade, you’re pain.

You’re all – an apple, Helen of Sparta, a throne, and Troy.

You’re Donbas and sweet salt of the Ukrainian fields.

You’re both  a  blood and a hemostatic. Prison and freedom.

You are water and ground. You are a speech and lips. All…

You’re deep dark mourning when buried forever.

You are shining white faith when pregnant is…

You’re a cross-stitch on blouse embroidery and you’re a grave cross

And you’re a cross pendant, that protects from enemy shots…

You are life. Do you understand it? You’re life goddess!

Send this life to Our Soldiers!

First – to the frontline.

To the field...”


When you are happy

That except of drones




May bugs still fly

Spring during the war

War during the spring

Feels like sleeping

b. 1992 in Khmelnytskyi. Ukrainian poetess,

member of National Writers’ Union of Ukraine,

Yoga teacher.