1. Tchornobriva: black-browed girl.

  2. Rushniky: long towels prepared by a mother for her daughter’s dowry: in case of death used to lower the coffin.

  3. Ptashka: little bird.

  4. “Hamaleia” is an historical romance. The poet represents one of the excursions of the Zaporozhian Cossacks under the leadership of Hamaleia on Skutari, the Turkish city on the Bosphorus. The Cossacks saved western Europe from the Tartar and Turkish invasions, by fighting the invaders in the land of the barbarian. The poem describes one of these excursions where the Cossacks animated by the desire of revenging themselves on the Turks and freeing their brothers who were lying as captives in Turkish prisons, undertake a perilous trip in small wooden boats over the stormy Black Sea to Skutari, open the prisons, burn the city, and return home with rich spoils and their freed brethren. —⁠Hunter

  5. When a girl becomes engaged she binds on the head of her lover a handkerchief embroidered in gay colours by her own hands.

  6. Unplaiting the hair: custom of a bride-to-be.

  7. Tchumaki: road merchants, traders in other lands.

  8. To Jacques de Balmont⁠—French friend of the Ukrainians who perished in the Circassian war.

    The Czars used the Ukrainians as tools in their ambitious projects. A hundred thousand of them perished in the marshes, digging the foundations of Petrograd. As many more died in the attempt to subdue the Circassians⁠—tribes inhabiting the Caucasus mountains⁠—to the imperial will of the Russian autocrat.

    The memory of these sufferings was the inspiration of this bitter poem.

    The text is taken from the prophecy of Jeremiah 9:1.

    “Oh, that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people.” —⁠Hunter

  9. This is the national poem of the Ukrainians, recited at all their gatherings. I have given the thought and something of the feeling. The music of the original I could not give. It begins like a Highland dirge with wailing amphibrachs, and there are other measures in it not used in our language. Perhaps some future student may be moved to put this poem in such English form as will give the true impression of the original.

    The motive of the poem is, in part, to awaken the conscience of the young educated Ukrainians who, for the sake of gain were allowing themselves to be used as tools by foreign oppressors. —⁠Hunter

  10. Written shortly before his arrest.

  11. Shevchenko had heard a story of nuns in a convent conveying messages to one another interspersed in the words of the religious service. The messages were to the effect that company was coming that night and there would be music and dancing. Hence this sardonically humorous poem. —⁠Hunter

  12. Written the first year in the disciplinary brigade.

  13. Written in the disciplinary brigade, first or second year.

  14. Change of metre as in original.

  15. So far as is known, the last thing written in the disciplinary brigade third year. There are no verses and few letters for the next seven years.

  16. This poem was written in 1847 in Siberia. Taken away suddenly from Ukraine, Shevchenko could not forget his mother land. His beloved Ukraine was very far from him, and he longed for her even in his dreams. He describes in the poem a dream which he had about the beauties of the Ukraine, which he had just left and which he never hoped to see again. The old man of whom he speaks represents the poet himself, who knew the miseries of his native land and who desired to spend the last hours of his life there. —⁠Hunter

  17. “The Dream Herb” (a species of anemone) is in the Ukraine considered as something weird and uncanny. It is called Son-travà, literally Dream-grass, and has a flower like a little bell. Maidens pluck it to place under their pillows in early spring, that they may dream of their lovers. But by the rest of the world it is regarded with awe and superstitious fears. —⁠Livesay

  18. It happened sometimes, when a cossack warrior found his energies failing and his joints growing stiff from much campaigning, he would bethink him of his sins and deeds of blood.

    These things weighing on his mind, he would decide to spend the remainder of his life in a monastery, but before taking this irrevocable step, he would hold a time of high revel with his old comrades. This poem pictures such an event. —⁠Hunter

  19. Written in exile in Russia about a month before his death.