Ivan Franko is the great Ukrainian poet, writer, philosopher, political activist, social and literary critic, journalist, interpreter, economist,doctor of philosophy, ethnographer, the author of the first detective novels and modern poetry in the Ukrainian language and the Nobel Prize nominee (August 27, 1856 – May 28, 1916). Franko’s legacy goes far beyond his more than 1000 literary works.
With his enlightening activities, Ivan Franko was promoting the idea of Ukraine’s independence as a unitary state and to a certain extent defined the trend for forthcoming generations of Ukrainian patriots.
Embassy of Ukraine in the USA shared on Facebook:
'The Embassy of Ukraine to the U.S. has the honor to commemorate Ivan Franko with his most popular lyrics Stone Crushers in English and expresses its high appreciation to Petro Fedynsky for making this wonderful translation.'
by Ivan Franko
Translated by Peter Fedynsky
A dream astonished me. It seems before me
Lay a boundless, bare and wild surface
And I, bound with chains of steel,
Stood beneath a towering granite rock face,
And yonder just like me were many thousands more.
Life and sorrow lined each brow,
Each one’s eyes ablaze with love,
Chains, like serpents, laced their hands,
And to the ground stooped each one’s shoulders,
Some awful weight pressed down on all.
In each one’s hand a steel hammer
And from above a thundering voice:
“Crush this cliff! May heat or cold
Not stop your task! Bear the toil, the thirst and hunger,
For it’s your fate to crush this cliff.
All as one raised high their hands,
Hammers of the thousands echoed from the craggy rock,
Shards and splinters scattered in ten thousand angles;
And with the force of anguish
We pounded on that face of rock.
Like the din of bloody battle, like a cascade’s roar
Our hammers thundered blow by blow;
Inch by inch we covered ground;
Though more than one was maimed and mangled,
We soldiered on, delayed by nothing.
Fame, we knew, would grace us not,
Our sweat and blood recalled by none,
And only when we’ve broken through
And paved an even road
Only then will people take it
Treading on our rotting bones.
We did not wish for fame and glory,
For we’re not heroes, we’re not knights.
Nay, we’re captives,
Though freely did we don our chains.
For freedom did we part with freedom.
On the road to progress, we’re just smashing rock.
We all had faith that with our hands
We’d break that cliff, we’d pound the granite,
And with our blood and with our bones
We’d build a gift and after us would
Come new life and newborn goodness in this world.
We knew that somewhere far upon this earth,
Which we’d traded for a life of labor, sweat and chains,
Tears for us were shed by mothers, wives and children,
Aware as well that friends and foes, irate and angry,
Would curse our goal, our deeds, alas our very selves.
This we knew, and often did the soul feel anguish,
The heart was torn, sorrow gripped the chest;
But tears, grief, curses and the body’s searing pain,
Would not divert us from our task,
And none would drop his hammer.
We all thus marshal on, a people bound together
With a sacred common notion and hammers in our hands,
Though we be damned, forsaken by the world.
We break that cliff, we smooth the road for truth,
And on our bones, good fortune will be shared by all.'