city silhouette


Oles Ilchenko

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Oles Ilchenko

  • The ravens dwelling in Reytarska Street

    blinking a ravenous and nightshade eye

    are holding in their steel fury

    and flowing above the silent and nocturnal stream


    of lanes and alleys, and sleepless squares,

    above the steeper of roofs, and belfries, and spires;

    they’re flying and cawing. A sudden rain

    cannot bother the black-winged trio.


    They’re flying, and an all-embracing movement

    pervades all of Kyiv and the Barren Mount.

    The thought, the sight, the hearing, all’s been shut;

    even the defiance of the spirit seems broken.


    …Yes, just a dream, just a nightly vision.

    The heart is beating hard against the ribcage.

    It’s not a major road, but a byway.

    Behind the bars in a backyard, there are three black ravens.

    (Oles Ilchenko. Several Dreams, or Kyiv that is No More. Kyiv: Hrani-T, 2007, p. 91.)

    The poem comes from the collection Several Dreams, or Kyiv that is no more, published in 2007. The book is illustrated by rare photos of Kyiv made by the author. According to Kost Moskalets, who also wrote the foreword for the collection, ‘the texts of Oles Ilchenko seem to be not a photobook but rather a herbarium: through the dry shapes of the collection one may see a living face of the beloved, half-forgotten city of Kyiv with its dreams and hopes.’

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