Home > Uncategorized > Ivan Franko: Even the dove has the blood of men on its snowy white wings

Ivan Franko: Even the dove has the blood of men on its snowy white wings


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Ukrainian writers on war


Ivan Franko
Translated by Percival Cundy

The Dove (1889)

A hermit was sitting by his lonely cell,
Far off in the heart of the primeval woods
Where nothing was heard but the voices of birds,
And murmurs of leaves as the wind rose and fell.
When lo! he looked upwards and there he descried
His sole friend returning, a snowy white dove,
Which he for two days had been mourning as lost.
The dove fluttered down, came to rest at his feet.
The hermit at once to the dove, where it stood,
Extended his hand to caress it, but stopped –
Those snowy white wings bore the stain of men’s blood.
The holy man gasped: “What a curse on all things
There must be, when even a dove doth return
From dwellings of man with their blood on its wings!”


From The Death of Cain (1889)

“…To slaughter beasts
And birds, their fellows too, ransack the earth
To find out what and whom to kill?
For them, the hard and cutting stones they find
But suited for knife or spear or dart.
For this they tear the horns from stag and buck,
The teeth from other beasts. The woman said
That they had found a certain kind of stone
Which in the fire dissolves as though ’twere wax.
And from it they have learned to make them knives
And spears and arrowheads more hard and sharp
Than those of flint. So here’s where knowledge leads!
Blood, wounds, and death, these are its primal gifts!”

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