Horses in Masks
by Ihor Pavlyuk
(translated from the Ukrainian by Steve Komarnyckyj)
Soon it will be autumn
Scattering its gold coins
On someone’s road,
A harsh light, stained
With the fragrance of pines,
An unwritten strophe
In the language of birds.
Ihor Pavlyuk was born in the Volyn region of Ukraine in January
1967 and studied at the St. Petersburg Military University, which he
left in order to pursue his career as a writer. He was, as a result,
sentenced to a period of hard labour in the Taiga but continued to
write as best he could, driven by a nostalgia for his Ukrainian
homeland, until he was liberated by the fall of the Soviet Union.
Steve Komarnyckyj is a British Ukrainian writer and linguist who
runs a translation and literary agency, Kalyna Language Press, with
his partner Susie. His translations and poems have appeared in
Poetry Salzburg Review, Vsesvit magazine, The North, the Echo
Room, the Los Angeles Review, and Modern Poetry in Translation.
His book of selected translations from Tychyna was published by
Poetry Salzburg in 2012. A collection of Ihor Pavlyuk’s poems
translated from the Ukrainian, and Komarnyckyj’s own first
collection, will both be published in 2013. Komarnyckyj will also
be one of the three featured authors in the first of the 3 x 3 series of
books published by Fjords Journal (USA) in March 2013 and
available throughout the United States.
On “Horses in Masks”:
This poem is, for me, an anguished metaphor in which the
apocalypse is envisaged (“Emptiness./ Soon it will be autumn”)
with symbols of death or (artificial) nature (such as the “horse
masks”), reducing light to something inorganic. The image of
“the fragrance of pines” appears to give hope for the future
of the natural world, but is undercut by the conclusion “An
unwritten strophe/ In the language of birds.” We, as humans,
do not study the perfect language of nature, our neighbors on
the Earth—animals and plants. So there is a chance that we
may destroy ourselves along with our planet.
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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary
Volume 7, Number 2
Copyright © 2012
by Leah Browning, Editor.
All future rights to material
published in the Apple
Valley Review are retained
by the individual authors