Part of monument to children murdered in 1941, Babi Yar, Kyiv

The Ravine (ЯР)

Moysey Fishbein's poem about the September 1941 murder of 33,771 Jews at Babyn Yar, a ravine in Kyiv, Ukraine.

The Ravine


Birds beat their wings
Against the morning still.
A solitary voice.
A solitary star.
Yesterday’s footprints
Not yet erased,
An evening without the cradle song.
Yesterday’s faces
Still in the mirror.
Rachel is asleep,
Still no hole in her forehead.
A solitary call.
The star is gone,
The birds observe the earth
Down from the frigid sky.
Foot-shuffle. Uproar. A screech. Then clatter.
Here they walk
Over cold, hard cobblestones,
Thousands of people
Walk between hard, merciless walls,
Bearing along
Rachel, still without a hole in her forehead,
Here it is, the forehead, a child’s forehead
Without a hole,
They carry her toward the machine guns.
Foot-shuffle. Clatter. A screech. Uproar.
From the sky
birds look down
at the earth.


Cranes over Babyn Yar –
September is in grief.
Cranes over Babyn Yar –
What is left of hope.
Black shadows in heavy silence,
In solitude
The cranes fly above the autumn, above the day, the night,
Cranes’ bodies
Carry the unattainable on every wing
and disappear in the fog.
Over Babyn Yar the cranes are aflight,
these September tears.

Kyiv, 1974
Translated from Ukrainian by Roman Turovsky-Savchuk, 12/29/2006


Moysey Fishbein



У вранішню тишу
б’ються крила птахів.
Самотній голос.
Самотня зірка.
Ще не зітерті
вчорашні сліди,
вечір без колискової.
Ще з люстра не зникли
вчорашні обличчя.
Ще спить
Рохеле без дірки в скроні.
Самотній голос.
Вже зірки нема.
Птахи дивляться на землю
з холодного неба.
Човгання. Гамір. Рипіння. Тупіт.
Вони йдуть
холодною твердою бруківкою,
тисячі люду
йдуть між твердих невблаганних стін,
вони несуть
Рохеле без дірки в скроні,
ось вона, скроня,
дитяча скроня без дірки,
вони несуть її туди, до кулеметів.
Човгання. Тупіт. Рипіння. Гамір.
З неба
на землю
дивляться птахи.


Понад Бабиним Яром летять журавлі —
вересневе ридання.
Понад Бабиним Яром летять журавлі —
як надія остання.
Чорні тіні летять у важкій тишині,
у своїй самотині,
понад осінь летять, понад ночі і дні
ці тіла журавлині.
І несуть недосяжність на кожнім крилі,
і зникають у мреві.
Понад Бабиним Яром летять журавлі,
ці плачі вересневі.


From website: Moysey (Moses) Fishbein (1946 – 2020; Ukrainian: МОЙСЕЙ ФІШБЕЙН) was a Ukrainian poet and translator, winner of the Vasyl Stus Prize, a member of the Ukrainian Center of the International PEN Club and the National Union of Writers of Ukraine. Moses Fishbein was born in 1946 in Chernivtsi. He worked in the Main Editorial Office of the Ukrainian Soviet Encyclopedia and as Mykola Bazhan’s literary secretary. In 1979 he was forced to emigrate due to his refusal to cooperate with the KGB. In 2003 he returned to Ukraine. Moses Fishbein was the author of the books The Iambic Circle (1974), The Untitled Collection (1984), The Strange Garden (1991), The Apocrypha (1996), The Scattered Shadows (2001), and The Aphorisms. ), “Early Paradise” (2006). From his pen came translations from French (S. Baudelaire), from German (G. Heine, R. M. Rilke, G. von Hoffmannstal, P. Celan and others), from Hebrew (Yehuda ha-Levy, H. N. Bialik, M. Winkler) and many other languages ​​and authors. World encyclopedias write about Moses Fishbein. Moses Fishbein was awarded the Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise V degree, the Order of the Holy Apostolic Prince Vladimir the Great III degree, the Order “For Intellectual Courage”.

From Wikipedia: Roman Turovsky-Savchuk (Ukrainian: Роман Туровський-Савчук) is an American artist-painter, photographer and videoinstallation artist, as well as a lutenist-composer, born in Ukraine. His musical works were published under various pseudonyms, including Johann Joachim Sautscheck. Turovsky was born in Kiev, Ukraine in 1961, when it was part of the Soviet Union. He studied art from an early age under his father, the painter Mikhail Turovsky, and at the Shevchenko State Art School in Kiev. The family emigrated to New York City in 1979. They first lived in the Bronx. Turovsky continued his art studies in New York at the Parsons School of Design, studying concurrently Historical Performance (Baroque Lute) and Composition, under Patrick O’Brien, Pier Luigi Cimma, Leonid Hrabovsky and Davide Zannoni. During the early 1990s, he worked at NYANA, a refugee resettlement agency in New York City (his co-workers there included people now prominent in the arts: theatre director Alexander Gelman, writer and director Todd Solondz, and writers Alex Halberstadt and Gary Shteyngart).