Schevchenko – Do not envy

Schevchenko - a peasant family
         The peasant family, Taras Schevchenko (1843)

Do not envy the rich man,
He knows nothing ever
Of friendship nor of love—
For those he must pay.
Do not envy the powerful,
They are obliged to bully ;
Do not envy the famous
For they know well enough
It’s not they who are loved
But their bitter fame

Which in order to please gushes
From the blood and tears of bitter pain.
And to the young they meet,
All is quiet and blissful
As in paradise—but see :
Something is really wrong.

Therefore, envy, no one ;
Look around—and you will never
Find paradise on this earth,
Nor, indeed, in heaven above.

Taras Schevchenko

(version by John Lyons)


Taras Schevchenko, (1814-1861) is Ukraine’s national poet and the personification of the Ukrainians’ thirst for liberty and independence. Schevchenko was born into serfdom, but in 1838, a group of artist friends purchased his freedom with the proceeds from a sale of their paintings. Schevchenko was an accomplished painter of landscapes and historical canvases

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