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Idolatrous Nights


The refraction of the moon repeats itself in the clouds, a song,

Cloud on cloud forming a silver wall, below which the foxes bark.

Leaves dangle from the stars in oblique ropes,

The mushrooms chime their plates of rust colour,

In the forest choir,

The leaves of the oak form

A lush foam, a surf, that booms and trumpets

The unwritten law of night.

Wolves bring their sacrifice of blood and flesh,

Wiping their muzzles on musical flax.


Night of predatory law and dark magic. In the marsh things knead

A dull red dough of mud. Owls harmonise treason.

A star wrinkles its eyebrow at the moon,

Flower sticks to flower,

In a dew thick as paste,


The oily greenery

Becomes this coarse fabric of darkness.

The angles of roots are coiled music, plaiting

The melodies that foam within.

This is the heart of the forest,


The horizon's secret,

Where storms exhaust themselves and lightning

Is a razor whipped across a razor,

Each broken human dream.

Its wings sweep across the earth, adorning roofs


With wreathes for the marriage of fire.

Terror, a subterranean child that cries each night

In that place where beyond knowledge of feeling or ruin

The incomprehensible, ancient speech surrounds us.

The river. Spring grinds its ice.


Bohdan Ihor Antonych


Translated by Stephen Komarnyckyj


First published in Modern Poetry in Translation Issue: Series 3 No.14 - Polyphony. In May 2016 Kalyna Language Press was awarded a PEN Translates grant to finance Steve Komarnyckyj's translations of Antonych. The book,  Night Music, was published on 5 October 2016 and is available through all good bookshops, amazon, and numerous other outlets. Click here to read more and find out about a few places where you can buy the book.



Publication Date: 5 October 2016

ISBN:  9780993197277

125 pages

9780993197277-Perfect 3on 171016-Fin2-page-Front