Bella Ciao – Obiymy – Embrace Me – Despacito – Do Something

Now that the Monster of Mar-a-Lago owns the headlines again, where is Ukraine?

I will continue rallying support for Ukraine, by raising consciousness of their culture, their natural resources, their contributions to the good of the world, their centuries-old democratic spirit, their Cossack spirit, their traditions.

If we had Ukraine’s democratic spirit, we would be a democracy rather than a twisted, self-corrupting anocracy.  We lost that quest.  The United States of America has fallen from grace.  As Bill Moyers recently put it, “We’ve run out of luck.”

Ukraine has not run out of luck.  It’s not about luck there.  It’s about commitment.  Commitment to what?

What does her flag stand for?  NATURE.  Blue sky and yellow waves of wheat fields.

If you are new to this blog or perhaps did not get a look at them before, take another look at my posts about Ukraine.  There’s a lot of history in those posts, and art, music, spirit … all that stuff I said I would continue raising up in our consciousness of Ukraine.

Recently, I heard a little piece on NPR about Ukraine’s patriotic song based on the tree, kalyna (Viburnum opulus) and the song’s harkening to the heroic Sich Riflemen of the war for Ukrainian Independence in 1917-21.  It was insulting to its topic. They talked about the kalyna berry, as if that is all it is about.  They didn’t even play the song or read some of its lyrics.  They had a few seconds of a choir in the background.

NETFLIX, not NPR or PBS, honored Ukraine in its Netflix special on the 2014 Maidan Revolution.

Our public media have published a dearth of Ukraine’s culture on PBS, NPR, BBC, France 24, Germany’s DW English, India’s WION, Canada’s CBC and Australia’s ABC, etc.  These are all great information sources.  I recommend all of them.  Sadly, they are not teaching us who Ukraine is.  How are we to empathize rationally with people we don’t know?

It has been established that spending time immersed in nature increases a person’s likelihood of caring about the environment, or it increases the depth of such caring.  Even just small immersions in Ukraine’s culture can elevate one’s appreciation for who and what is being slaughtered over there.

It is not “over there.”  It is here.  It is everywhere: the crushing of hope in democracy, if we do not open to the truth of the crushing and the beauty of crushed peoples and cultures.

People worry about a possible “world war.”  We are already in it; the war for truth, decency, human rights, liberty.  Whether by artillery and missiles, or by suppression of journalism and voting, or by rabid dissemination of fiendish lies, or by appealing to the basest instincts of people easily deluded because of the nature of their diseased cultural immersion, it is all war.  We stand no hope of fighting if we stand stupid, ignorant and blind about what is happening.

Who is bringing anything about Ukriane to us other than the headlines over eyeball grabbing violence?  Who is bringing us Ukraine, not just the war in Ukraine?  Tell me, share a link, and I will publish it here, on this post and elsewhere.  Seek a little, share a little, take a little immersion in Ukraine.  She will not disappoint you.

Come to think of it, Netflix, a for-profit outfit, released that Maidan documentary for free viewing on YouTube.  Apparently they give a damn about Ukraine.  Watch it and learn about the Ukrainian soul for democracy.

I ran web searches for reports about Ukraine’s culture in our major not-for-profit public media.  Absolutely pitiful.  We send countless billions in weapons and material aid to Ukraine, and we are just as ignorant as ever about who they are, and what we can learn from them.  How are we to rally true support for them if we don’t know anything about them?

That’s America for you.  Try to solve their problem with weapons, and who cares about who they are.  I know this is not true of everyone, of all Americans.  I am, after all, an American, though not proud of it these days.  Still, we lack immersive commitment to the heart and soul of Ukraine commensurate with our commitment to scores of $billions in weapons, at record profits to their manufacturers.  We leave this matter in the hands of money to our peril.

Learn about Ukrainians and their culture, and share it.  Like this:

More to come.

2008 Ukraine postage sheet celebrating Crimean Nature Reserve.


Unite behind Ukraine.  Give her a little love today.  Help people learn about her.  Instead of sharing links to my posts, you can just share the links to things I mention, the music, the references, whatever grabs you, grab it and send it on.

On behalf of Ukraine, thank you for the love.

Enjoy the two songs below.  Let the first one, Bella Ciao, rile you.  Let the second one, Obiymy, hurt you.  The video content in it may do that as much as the music.  If you open fully to both imagery and music at the same time, it may burn you down.  That’s a good thing.  That’s the fire of your love aroused.

Then do something.  Make a donation.  Act up.  Speak out.  Sing, draw, write, paint, dance.  Whatever the pain drives out of you.  Do something.

At least share the music you find here and in my other Ukraine posts.  Just share the YouTube links to the music.

2004 Ukraine postage s631. Dancers in traditional dress.

Ukraine is music.  We know it because we are music when we hear it.  It is the music of your soul responding to their souls, knowing them, feeling them present within you.  Isn’t that what art is?  Soul feeling and feeding soul?

Perhaps just share one link: my Ukraine Posts page.  That would be an honor I don’t expect, and an honoring of Ukraine.

America is lost.  We may find something of ourselves in finding Ukraine.

We cannot afford to be numb to Ukraine, The Shield of Europe, the battleground of democracy, decency, and humanity.  We may be lost, but loving Ukraine is loving the memory of America, loving what we can be someday, something made of love, compassion, empathy, beauty.  See that in Ukraine.  See it in yourself.  See it in us.  Give it a chance by sharing some music.  Some day it will come around to us again.  Ukraine is already helping to make that happen, for the world, and dying for it.  They die better than we live.

Do whatever your heart says to do.  Don’t turn away from it.  Don’t let it be numbed.  Follow it.  Do something.  We are easily moved by beauty in art, in music, in nature.  They move the heart, rattle the soul.  Follow them.  Do something.

You may have heard of the world famous Italian protest song, Bella Ciao.  From Wikipedia:

Bella ciao” (Italian pronunciation: [ˈbɛlla ˈtʃaːo]; “Goodbye beautiful”) is an Italian protest folk song from the late 19th century, originally sung by the mondina workers in protest against the harsh working conditions in the paddy fields of northern Italy.

It is generally accepted that the song was modified and adopted as an anthem of the Italian resistance movement by the partisans who opposed nazi-fascism between 1943 and 1945 during their fight against the occupying forces of Nazi Germany allied to the fascist and collaborationist Italian Social Republic, although some historians argue that there is little to no evidence that this song was actually sung by Italian partisans.

Versions of “Bella ciao” continue to be sung worldwide as an anti-fascist hymn of freedom and resistance.

Will we hear it sung around the Capitol in Washington, D.C.?  It is popular in Ukraine, as you are about to see.

For many years there have been Ukrainian versions of the song.  I want to share two of them with you.  First, a Ukrainian performance of the Italian version.

The performance below is by the fantastic Ukrainian group B&B Project (button accordion and bandura — the Ukrainian instrument) with guitar and singing by Armenian musician Elena Yerevan.  An international bouquet of music and musicians.

I introduced B&B Project in earlier posts about Ukraine.  Here is their YouTube playlist of 52 Ukrainian folk songs.  Visit their YouTube channel for much more of their amazing work, including contemporary and classical music.

My favorites are their engrossing performance of Storm, adapted from Antonio Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, and their special B&B instrumental cover of the Puerto Rican love song, Despacito.  B&B elevates the song to an eternal classic, in my view.  All of their music videos are delightful to see and hear.  You can spend all day browsing their YouTube channel.

(The original Despacito by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee is hot stuff, too, a blend of rap and Latino.  Fun, hoppin’ stuff with sexy dancing in the video.  Check it out.  I can see why B&B liked it.)

Song: Bella Ciao performed by Elena Yerevan & B&B Project [using the Partisan lyrics, not the Mondine folk song].

You don’t have to understand a single word of Italian to enjoy this.  Let it happen.  But here is what it says, in English:

Lyrics for Partisan version of Ciao Bella (Wikipedia)

One morning I awakened,
oh bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao, ciao, ciao! (Goodbye beautiful)
One morning I awakened
And I found the invader.

Oh partisan carry me away,
oh bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao, ciao, ciao
oh partisan carry me away
Because I feel death approaching.

And if I die as a partisan,
oh bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao, ciao, ciao
and if I die as a partisan
then you must bury me.

Bury me up in the mountain,
oh bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao, ciao, ciao
bury me up in the mountain
under the shade of a beautiful flower.

And all those who shall pass,
oh bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao, ciao, ciao
and all those who shall pass
will tell me “what a beautiful flower.”

This is the flower of the partisan,
oh bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao, ciao, ciao
this is the flower of the partisan
who died for freedom



Notice the elements of nature in the song.  Morning.  Mountain.  Flower.  “This is the flower of the partisan who died for freedom.”  Is it any wonder our relationship with nature is so integral to all of our reality?  It is magnified and glorified in the arts.  Why?  Not a rhetorical question.


Song: Bella Ciao, Ukrainian patriotic adaptation by Khrystyna Soloviy.

English translation of lyrics, quoted from the song’s YouTube page:

Early one morning, without warning,
The earth was shaking and blood rushed right to our heads,
Rockets descending, tanks neverending –
In anger roared old Dnipro.

[or Dnieper, a major river in Ukraine, and Dnipro is Ukraine’s fourth largest city, with about one million inhabitants (before the war)]

Nobody thought that, no one expected
The righteous fury in Ukrainian souls:
Destroy aggressors, remorse not given
To any darklings who come to our land

The Ter[ritorial]. Defences have the best lads
Only the heroes fight in the Army of Ukraine.
Javelin launchers, Bayraktar fliers
Fight for Ukraine and beat Roosnia*

Our mighty people, folks of Ukraine,
United worldwide rise against aggression from Roosnia*,
We’ll soon destroy them, and win our freedom,
And there will be peace again
________
* “The Roosnia” is Ukrainian slang for aggressive, xenophobic Russians influenced by Kremlin propaganda of Russian imperial Nazism

If you liked the Italian partisan version, set it aside and forget about it.  This one is even more of, by and for Ukraine.  Click the CC button to see the English subtitles.



.

Hold onto your heart for this one.
Be immersed in it.
Turn it up.  Let go and sink into it.

.

Song: Obiymy (Embrace Me).  Cover by the band Ocean Elsa [Elzy] of a song by Sviatoslav Vakarchuk and Okean Elzy.

English translation of lyrics:

When the day comes
The war will be over.
I lost myself there.
I saw it all to the bottom.

Embrace me, embrace me, embrace me.
So tenderly, and don’t let me go.
Embrace me, embrace me, embrace me.
Let your spring come.

And here is my soul,
Laying down its weapon.
Does it really want
Warm tears so much?

Embrace me, embrace me, embrace me.
So tenderly, and don’t let me go.
Embrace me, embrace me, embrace me.
Let your spring come.

[Child speaking:]
We pray for Mariupol
We pray for Kharkiv
For Kyiv
Sumy
Volnovakha
Chernihiv
We pray for Ukraine

Embrace me, embrace me, embrace me.
And don’t ever let it go like that.
Embrace me, embrace me, embrace me.
Let your spring come.

Embrace me, embrace me, embrace me.
And don’t ever let it go like that.
Embrace me, embrace me, embrace me.
Let your spring come.

(Click the CC button for English subtitles.)



Artists’ comments on the YouTube page:

Today, the song Obiymy (Embrace me), written by Sviatoslav Vakarchuk, sounds like a prayer for Ukraine.

It helps to believe that the victory is near, that those war-torn families will reunite, and the souls wounded by hellish wrath will be healed.

Embrace me — is a begging of a child to the mother to hide from the explosions.

Embrace me — is a plea of a woman to the beloved man to return alive.

Embrace me — is a cry to the Holy Mother to give strength to survive the longing for those who will not return.

The enemy had uprooted us from our peaceful lives and threw us into the crossroads of war.

But we are alive. We are fighting. And we are praying. Everyone — in the way they can.

Please listen to Obiymy, find some shelter in it, and strengthen your faith.

We will win.

We all are Ukraine!

Idea: Oleg Navolniev.

Vocal: Ivan Rozin, Olga Chernienko.

Guitars: Ivan Rozin, Oleg Navolniev, Ivan Marchenko.

Children’s choir: Veronika Ivanova, Nazar Kitcha, Yegor Turcheniak, Kira Chystakhovska, Nazar Yanovski, Yeva Matiushenko.
Choir leader — Vasyl Rudenko.

String Quartet: Yulia Bun-Volkotrub (violin), Oksana Zhurkina (violin), Anastasia Konotop (cello), Olena Grechka (viola).

Special thanks to Sviatoslav Vakarchuk and the Okean Elzy music band for the great song and the inspiration.


Here it is again, with an orchestra and dancers who say it in their art, sending you their Ukraine, their way.  These dancers and their special stage, and the accompanying video clips, sharpen the music to heart-piercing strength.

This is the art of Ukraine expressing the experience of war.  It is not about war.  It is Ukraine meeting us in the enigmatic air of the soul, in spaces we live in that cannot be defined except in art, and read by the heart.

The passion they suffer is ours if we dare accept it.  What they make you feel is you, the response of your heart.  Follow it.

The world needs our tears, our experience of its pain.  It is the world crying in us, through us.  Denial of the horror is denial of ourselves.  We have its joys as well.  Bring them.  Embrace both.  Do something.

Song: Obejmij mnie/Обійми by Океан Ельзи (Okean Elzy).  Result of cooperation band “IRA”, Stoklosa Collective Orchestra with Ukrainian band “Ocean Elzy.”



Artists’ notes:

MUSIC OF FREEDOM – An international charity initiative aimed at supporting refugees and victims of Russian aggression.  We present you the first piece of “Music of Freedom”. Please be advised that all persons involved in the creation of this recording and clip have waived their fees.

From MusicOfFreedom.com (visit for information on how artists can participate):

Social project of polish and Ukrainian artists. All funds raised will be donated to charitable foundations to support the victims who suffered from war in Ukraine.


There is a line spoken in this video, “Speak up now.”

Speak up now.

It can be hard to do. This is not easy to immerse yourself into. Their suffering becomes yours.  There is no reward. There is just you being you. Responding to what touched you. I know it touches you. I would not do this if I did not know that.

You are here.  They are here.  Let them in.


Gee, who’d have thought?  They have music over there, too.
American exceptionalism is a dirty, deceptive myth.
It’s a small world, but a whole lot bigger than us.


Слава Україні. Героям слава.
Slava Ukraini. Heroyam slava.
Glory to Ukraine. Glory to the heroes.


Click on this image and take a long, close look at every bit of it.
Just be with it.
It is a 2021 painting by Ukrainian artist Vakulenko Y. Balance.

CLICK FOR MUCH BETTER FULL SCREEN VIEW.  Painting by Ukrainian artist Vakulenko Y. Balance. 2021. Retrieved from Wikimedia Commons. License: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0.


Alright, alright … to wipe away the tears, cleanse the palate, and leave you smiling and maybe even dancing … to celebrate, as this, too, is Ukraine, and what it arouses in you is you.  You are Ukraine when you submit to this.  Ura!  And Puerto Rico!  ¡Viva!  (And you thought “ura” or “oorah” was an American army thing.  It is Ukrainian for hooray!)

Go ahead.  Dance for Ukraine.
Or just wiggle in your chair.
Ukraine is watching.
And waiting.  For you.
Do something.

~~~   Embrace them.   ~~~



Please let me know if you see mistakes of any kind
in this article, or incorrect information.
Thank you.