COMMEMORATION

 
 
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Copyright © 2004-2013

THE FOURTH GENERATION SPEAKS

THE FAMINE OF 1933 IN UKRAINE
THROUGH MY EYES

 

ESSAYS BY WINNERS OF THE XXIVTH MARUSIA BECK LITERARY COMPETITION
FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE

Maria Pidkowich
Vera Malanczyj

Below is a poem by Iryna Voytenko from Ukraine who was one of the first-place winners in the 7 - 11 year old category.

 

VOICE OF HOPE

Iryna Voytenko
Translated by Vera Malanczyj 

 

- Mother, listen
someone is knocking at the window?
- You poor woe begotten little bird!
How is it that you have stayed on
          to live in this place
of misery and discord?
Who will spare you a bite to eat?
- We don't even have
          a crumb of bread
          nor a seed of grain.
I'm so cold, so hungry
          and I haven't been to school for a while.
We ate oil-cake
          but we haven't had any for a while.
And so Vasilko died, and then Olenka,
          and Grandpa Oleksiy and Grandma Natalka.
Misfortune is upon us!
- Fly away, fly away
          way across the ocean!
Let everyone know about:
          our grief
          our misfortune,
          and how many have already died.
We turn to God for our Salvation
and curse the damn regime.
Whose idea was this?
Why are we dying from starvation?
Probably because
          we are Ukrainians!
But there are millions of us
          and we are invincible!

Villagers in the fields gather grain,
As Stalin gives his ruthless order:
"Confiscate the harvest in Ukraine!"
O, woe! woe!
Gendarmes go from door to door,
And dig up everything:
From a breadcrumb to the table, to a cabbage leaf,
Children cry, mothers lament,
They pray to God for that last morsel of bread,
But no, Stalin's pitiless regime
Is determined to bring the people to their knees,
To turn them into servile paupers. 

And Hunger roves,
It rambles through my Ukraine.
It spares no one: not the old, not the women, not the
children.
Silence rules the village;
There are no children's voices,
The paths are overgrown with weeds;
Silence - total silence! 

O, wicked savage,
Cruel is your regime!
But we are not dead, we live!
We've lived to tell about our plight!
0, Ukraine, keep on fighting,
Fight for your independence,
          For your freedom, 
                   And for that loaf of bread on the table!

There were 7 other first-place winners from Ukraine as well as 2 from Canada. Each of the winners received an award of $100 and a certificate. 

Second place went to 4 children from Ukraine, one from Poland and one from the USA. Second-place winners were awarded $75 and a certificate. 
 

Among the third-place winners were 2 contestants from Ukraine and 3 from Canada. They received a $50 award and a certificate.

 

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