Poet, Journalist, Translator

Stephen Komarnyckyj

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I write about poetry, Ukraine and money laundering- why the hell not?

Dying so as to be born, in Kyiv

By Steve Komarnyckyj, May 22 2014 04:16PM

If you walk on the soft grass between the ruins of the abbey at Whitby you are treading the same ground where Caedmon the first English poet walked. He became a poet by accident when he left a gathering of monks who were about to sing and play harp. Caedmon was a lay brother who tended to the cattle and knew no songs. However, that night he was taught to sing in a dream and wrote the nine lines of Caedmon’s hymn, the first English poem. He could not have imagined as he soused water into a stone trough, or pastured the cattle, how his words would echo in so many other poems. However his poem was also the first hymn in English and whether or not we believe in God it is a part of every English speaker. English no longer belongs to the English it has become a language wherein many nations find part of their voice. I voted today in the United Kingdom and found so many parties on the ballot paper who wanted Britain to turn its back on Europe and on the world. However the language that Caedmon spoke would have been understood by the fishermen of the Frisian Islands. England has lost an Empire but gave the world a language which is becoming the space where so many peoples talk with one another in the global conversation. England cannot turn its back on Europe because it is Europe. Europe is also a continent not only of the mind, of the fields and rivers but also of the heart. However absurd it may seem in London, for people in Kyiv Europe is freedom, social justice. It was this idea which drove young people to advance towards automatic rifle fire with wooden shields and sticks. The parties of the right are in the ascendance trying to tear that dream apart. But as Geoffrey Hill said “there is no bloodless myth will hold” and it may be that Europe, the Europe of the heart was born in the lives sacrificed on the blood stained streets of Kyiv. Nothing that comes afterwards will be worth the loss of one of their lives. We remain in their debt.

1 comments
Jul 2 2014 07:48PM by Petro Kormylo

Well written,Steve !
"The pen is mightier than the sword " but bear in mind the terrorists in the eastern provinces who are Putin's puppets who do not believe in compromise.It is then we heed Shevchenko " і чужою злою кровю волю окропіте!". Many years ago my late father spoke at a political gathering here in Scotland where he said " I do not understand you "feint hearts."To achieve independence you need only shed ink. We Ukrainians have to keep shedding blood."

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