Poetized Ukrainian Fairy-Tale
“THE Tree Touching THE SKY”
Somewhere, beyond the mountains,
Beyond the woods,
In a state, that one guess hardly could,
There lived once one old tsar,
He was old, the state was big,
And the ruler was already sick,
But had no heir- only one daughter alone,
And that was well known.
The daughter grew up, ready to wed,
The tsar had only one thought in his head:
How to marry her off
To take off
The burden from the shoulders of the old man:
When you are old, you hardly can
Run the state on a go,
He let all the neighbor lands know,
That he invites go-betweens:
The lad his daughter will like,
The chap who will be right,
Will take her for his wife.
As only it was announced,
There were arriving dukes from the lands that were around,
And also – barons and simple young dudes,
Only very handsome, that won’t delude
Neither the tsar nor the royal miss,
And no one wanted to miss
A chance to become a tsar
Wedding a lassie, whose beauty was spread so far.
The young lady looked at one, at - another, at- the other-
No one was to her liking, my brother.
And, she told the father
She didn’t have grace to marry anyone,
As, for her, it was no fun.
The tsar got bitter:
- Daughter, you should be witty!
I am already old and tired-
There should be a new tsar hired!
I need to rest:
That would be the best!
But the girl is looking for wise excuses,
She knew he’d be losing.
The tsar had a marvelous garden around his estate,
So beautiful that it had the highest rate
In the whole under-sun world-
Believe, dear, my honest word!
All the trees and flowers from warm and hot dimensions,
That one can only mention,
in that garden of the Universe,
there was a high tree
that had been long time nursed,
And was so high that no one could see its top from the ground,
And, only there, it could be found.
The tsar was proud of that wonder- tree,
As much as could also we.
Once, when the daughter was annoyed with reproaches about the marriage to be,
She went out into the garden to admire and to see
The bright sun, the clear, warm day,
To watch the flowers and to say
the words nice and polite,
kind and tender, and right:
- Do not fear, my flowers, I won’t leave you alone,
No matter, how my daddy will try to make me get married
With some very noble prince, young potentate,-
She said in a gentle tone,
-I won’t leave you for a date.
But, one day, very bright,
There gathered a cloud, big and gray,
It was thundering and lightening,
As if it was a night, not a day…
It had hailed short, but hard,
And the sun came back again,
And it was again shining,
But the garden beauty’s lining
All the flowers were broken,
The trees’ leaves were knocked down…-
A big loss for the crown!
All was dry, as if from fire- steamed,
The tsar came out from the palace,
And didn’t recognize his garden:
He got old, yet, never had he seen such a disaster!
Not- a flower, not- a leaf!- Oh, Heaven’s Master!
He nearly cried. He called his daughter, but she didn’t reply,
He was looking for her everywhere, he really tried
To find her, but he failed. He called the servants. They came,-
All- the same.
She was nowhere! The tsar got frightened and scared,
He sent the message, where only could,
Sent the messengers to all commonwealths,
Promising to the one who would find the lady,
To give him all the tsardom and all his wealth.
Thousands were looking for the noble maiden,
But she vanished, as if swallowed by the earth,
The tsar was so much sadden: he had only one child,
And she disappeared. Some force, wild,
Had stolen his daughter from him- so unfair!
The life became a nightmare,
Nothing made him happy any more,
From the grief and sorrow, he went sick,
The doctors took care of him, but he became, thin, as a stick:
No remedy was found: he was growing feeble and weak.
Once, he fell asleep, and saw a dream,
To be the truth:
In the cloud of the storm, there was a weird dragon-beast
with seven domes,
he took his daughter to the top of the tree, where he had his home,
and she is now a confined…
The tsar woke up having a dream on his mind:
- A dream will be always a dream, but, it could be veracity.
That very day, she really vanished. We need audacity,
Let us give it a try!
The dream could be right!
He informed all the states, that, if there were a knight,
Who could climb the highest tree up to the sky,
And would find
His daughter, the sense of his life,
The tsar would allow him to marry the future queen,
And all his possessions, he’d hand to him alone,
He would be a rich tsar ever known.
Hey, when the young men heard of that,
All the lads,
Dukes, barons, earls, and, even, well-dressed gypsy guys…
Wanted the high tree to climb,
Those who thought they could climb well,-
No one climbed high, and no one fell…
Some climbed so high, they were not seen,
But the tree was mean:
They had to come down
To the sadness of the crown.
So, it was a day, the second, and the third…
One long week, the second…
There was no success-
The volunteers were less.
Yet, a tsar had a young hogman-
Once, long ago,
Tsars and kings had herds of different livestock,
There was a rare king, who had no.
Some swine were walking free,
Some – under the lock.
The pigman watched, how the lords tried to climb the tree
To let the princess free,
And started to think in his mind:
- If the tsar allowed me,
I would bring him his lass
And, he never stopped thinking about that enterprise,
And, he even said it aloud one time.
An old female pig heard his words,
As, perhaps, also the tiny birds,
Came up to him scraping and said:
- Master, be faster!
- Go to the tsar’s place,
Ask him to allow you to climb the tree.
You will let his maiden free.
I know you very well, my dear,
I give you this advice, as, by you, we were revered.
Let the tsar have slaughtered an old hornless bull,
Let them pull off its skin and make for you three shrouds,
I know, you’ll win, and we’ll be proud.
John obeyed the old female swine, and went to the tsar’s place,
The king was sad, upset and very pale in his face.
-why have you come, John?
- your lordship! I see, there are many climbers in the place.
Allow me, please, to try it my way.
I promise, I’ll bring you the daughter, your star so bright.
The tsar laughed, though he was sad in his soul:
- You would like to climb the tree?
Better be a helper for my tomfool.
Your talk is a talk of a fool!
The chap got angry:
- Your excellency, allow me to climb!
Then the tsar asks his buffoon:
-what do you say to John’s proposal?
-give me John as a helper, as he is more stupid than I.
There’s no one under the moon,
- Fine! – says angrily John. You might be wise,-
But, your brightness, do not listen to the fool,
As from a foolish hole, there is a foolish wind blowing,
Please, order, what I am knowing:
Get slaughtered a hornless bull,
Let them make three shrouds,
Let me climb, - you will be proud.
If I come back without the lady, pretty and fair,
Do with my head, what you want- I won’t care.
The tsar looks at the boy and thinks:
- It’s not pretence. He doesn’t wink.
Okay, what you wish, will be done,
We will slaughter a bull,
But, remember: we cannot be fooled!
Without my daughter, do not return!
If you won’t bring her, better fall from the tree
To break your head,
As, if you don’t, an executioner will do that, - egad!
John returned to his swine,
The tsar ordered to do, as John desired,
When everything was ready,
The tsar said: - take the shrouds,
Climb! You are hired!
The kingdom or the death!
Show, that you are the best!
John put on one shroud,
The other two tied behind the back,
Took an axe, and, all proud,
Went under the tree.
There were so many people,
That one was not able to count.
John touched the tree,
Then, walked around,
He nicked the tree,
Then, pulled the axe from it,
Nicked over his head to better proceed,
It was not easy, indeed.
Soon, he wasn’t seen any more,
He was climbing all the day,
All his body was sore,
And, still, he had to climb very high,
The shroud was torn at the chest,
He took it off, put on another
Doing his best.
In a day, the second shroud
Had been torn as well,
He said to the third shroud:
-Keep on till I reach the first bough,
And he reached the branch that was growing aside,
Talking to himself: - be brave and bright!
He, then, closed his eyes, jumped onto the first leaf-
“or I win, or I lose!”
And the leaf spread in use.
He opened the eyes-
The same world, as that he came from:
The grass, the fields, the woods, the hills…
He walks, he goes, he roams,
And, at once, he sees a palace on a mountain, high,
Whirling on a duck’s leg,
John hit the leg with his axe, with force,
And the palace stopped, of course.
The gates and the doors went open wide,
And the lad entered the home, rich and bright.
The doors closed, the palace started to whirl, anew,
But there is nothing in view.
He enters a room, and, there, a girl runs to him,
It is the daughter of the tsar.
She says to him from a-far:
- Oh, Johnny, how did you come up here?
- Do not ask and do not fear!
Take your things and let’s go to your dad,
He’s dying for you. He feels so bad.
She went pale, when she heard all that:
- John, do not say all that,
if the monster hears, and he is bad,
My husband of woe,
He will kill us both!
She didn’t finish, and the dragon was right there:
Seven heads, from each, there come out flames,
Burning everything seven meters around,
That’s a reality- not a game!
- What creature is that? That will be his end!
asked the dinosaur
at the door.
The girl got braver and said:
-that is my devoted servant!
He cannot be without me and came here
To serve me and to revere!
The monster said: - okay, I won’t kill you, I’ll be kind, listen to my word:
- You can’t have food without work.
Do you see the horse? Take care of it, feed and dehydrate,
Give him everything, but not, what he will ask-
So simple is your task!
- Remember, do not try to deceive or lie,
Or you will lose your life…
John started to carry food for the horse:
Good hay, oats and barley, of course.
But the horse doesn’t take it at all-
Lies and his head falls.
John felt pity, caressed him and chants:
- Eat, my horsy, eat,
Maybe, you will be better. I know, how to feed.
I will feed you with love being kind,
I will feed you, like does the mankind.
The horse listened and said in a voice of a man:
-I, see, my fellow, you have a kind heart,
But you make me eat hay and oats,
But that isn’t my food,
That’s why I am in a bad mood.
-so, what should I give you to eat?
-I eat the hot metal, I drink the fire,
Give me metal and the fire hot,
If you do that, sick I’ll be not.
-but the crawler said not to give you, what you ask.
- if you listen to the dragon, you won’t complete your task:
You won’t free the princess, great,
and no one but me can annihilate.
the monster, that is why he torches me, so severe!
As he wants that I would die from fear.
-I will give you, my horsy, all you ask,
As I need to free the princess, - that’s my task.
- Do not do much, you kind guy,
But on Sunday, when the crawly flies beyond the hills,
Burn a pile of firewood, I will eat the burning flames,
And will be strong again.
We will do it undercover,
And the secret will be covered.
John has done, what the horse desired-
He gave him the flames and fire.
The horse is not at all common- the golden fur,
Five legs and the wings from the shoulder blades,
And his strength never fades.
-let us act till the dragon is out.
Go to the cellar, find the saddle, the sword and the bridle,
Which the dragon had hidden.
He did it- the dragon – in the doorway:
-I told you not to betray!
Let’s go and drink the wine
for your sins before you die.
The monster drank seven pails,
Became drank and went to sleep,
John knew, what he needed to get and keep.
He went to the horse, the horse helped to climb,
And everything seemed to be right,
The horse flew to a wood,
As fast as he could,
He said there was a boar,
That John had to kill.
John killed the boar,
There came out a hare.
The horse killed the hare with his back limb,
And John was with him,
He cut the hare’s head,
Inside there was a fancy box,
Where there were a lot of beetles, like a machine,
That John had never seen!
He killed the beetles with a stone,
When done, they were gone.
They came back to the palace,
That, before, was full of malice,
Now, the dragon was too weak-
He could hardly speak:
-John, you took away all my force.
- I will take not only your force,
But also – your life and the noble tsarina, the lady of the crown,
And killed the smog, he didn’t frown.
There came the horse with wings,
He flew with them through clouds and winds.
They flew much time-
It was easier to climb.
Then, the light hit- the ground!
But all were sad around.
- What had happened?
- The tsar is dying.
The daughter came and said -“hello!”
- Are you, father, bad?
She told her father all the story…
The tsar: - John, I am sorry,
I wanted to make you a fool’s aide,
But I see,
You have saved my daughter, dear,
And you acted without fear,
Now, you will be my heir!
The tsar sent for musicians, hooters,
There came gypsies, and they began a feast,
Heard in the west and in the east.
The wedding had been for two weeks,
The tsar invited not only the tsar kine,
But all the nation, which was kind,
There danced the lame, the blind…
John has taken over the crown’s enterprise,
And is ruling,- a king, kind and wise,
And is governing till this time,
If he didn’t die…
Translation, poetization and editing into English from Ukrainian by Ivan Petryshyn