Ukraine Posts

There are three sections here, for three different ways to display the same set of Ukraine posts in a simple list or with content.

1.  Quick List.  A list of links to posts, in chronological order.
2.  Excerpts List.  Displays each post’s featured image, linked title, date, and brief excerpt from the beginning of the post.
3.  Full Posts.  Full content of all the posts on the list, in series, chronological order.  You can read them all right here without having to click around among the posts.  NOTE that they are all long posts.

Quick List:



Excerpts List:



Full posts, in series, one after the other, date order:

  • Sing “We will lay down our souls and bodies for our freedom …” (2/28/2022)

    This title is a line from the Ukraine national anthem.  Today, “our freedom” is not only the freedom of Ukraine.  Today, Ukraine lays down her souls and bodies for freedom everywhere.  She is on the front line of the fight for humanity.

    Slava Ukraini!  Glory to Ukraine!  Gloire à l’Ukraine!
    ¡Gloria a Ucrania!  Ruhm der Ukraine!

    What is happening in Ukraine is happening to humanity.   Are we still human?  Have we died yet?  The national anthem of Ukraine says that her glory and freedom have “not yet perished.”  Nor has ours, I hope, for we are all Ukraine.


    You may have to wait a bit for Ukraine national websites
    to load from my links.  There’s a war on.

    #STANDWITHUKRAINE (official Ukraine website) “HOW CAN YOU HELP? The most important thing you can do for Ukraine now is to READ and SHARE verified information about Russia’s attack on Ukraine. “

    I was greatly impressed that the nation of Ukraine says that the most important thing we can do for them now is to read and share information.  Think about that.  Act on it.

    Good teachers always say that they learn by teaching.  Learn by sharing.  It really works, especially when you verify the source.


    The glory and freedom have not perished.  And so they cry out so often, “Glory to Ukraine.”  So might we, to lift her up, to honor her sacrifices on the front lines of war on humanity.

    (If you have trouble with this YouTube version, there is an audio-only version at the end of this post.)

    YouTube link: https://youtu.be/ZEFB2Y2QDcw

    Gloria all’Ucraina!  ウクライナに栄光を!  Rûmet ji Ukraynayê re!

    Full Definition of Glory: Great beauty and splendor. Honor, admiration, or distinction, accorded by common consent to a person or thing; high reputation; renown. That quality in a person or thing which secures general praise or honor.  Victory.

    Ukraine State Coat of Arms as of 1918 (in modern style)Ukrainian State Coat of Arms as of 1918 (in modern style) 400px

    So glory to Ukraine from our souls as a people joined in faith that glory and freedom are worth the fight, that they have not yet perished, not for us, not for her.  Who is “us” now?  Who is Ukraine?

    Luwalhati sa Ukraine! Δόξα στην Ουκρανία! Dicsőség Ukrajnának!

    Such is the spirit of her people.  They cling to the conviction, even to death, that their glory and freedom are inalienable and eternal.  They will be Ukrainian no matter what dictator runs the government, no matter what army, and they will overrun the dictator eventually, even without an army to fight with.  Even without weapons.  They take it to the streets in great masses.  Check their history.

    The tribute is to the glory and freedom of a people more than a nation.

    Slava Ukrainai!  Слава Україні!  Kemuliaan kepada Ukraine!

    The next video is a sing-along!  It contains more than a beautiful, sweetly and powerfully sung song.  It is a conversation between some “everyday” people in a park and you.  It concludes with a simple statement that is more true and more important now than ever, which, as you will see in the video, they express in simple, profound elegance, with a gentle, peaceful pride:

    ~~~~~~~    “We are all Ukrainians now.”    ~~~~~~~

    This video was made in 2014 as a response to Russian attacks in Crimea and the east regions of Ukraine.  The makers of the video wrote:

    Dear World, I thought that you would like to understand the words that Ukrainians sing in a million voices nearly every hour for almost four months in a row. The words that keep us strong and united in our fight for the better future. So me and my friends translated these words into English and sang for you. We tried to communicate all the senses and finest meanings, as well as to preserve the original poem’s beauty and specific melodious quality of a Ukrainian song. I hope we did it. Proud to present — the National Anthem of Ukraine. Feel free to sing with us, so we could feel your support 🙂

    YouTube link: https://youtu.be/COCEauuQrb0

    Cossack/Kozak: A member or descendant of an originally (semi-)nomadic population of Eastern Europe and the adjacent parts of Asia, formed in part of runaways from neighboring countries, that eventually settled in parts of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Russian tsarist Empire (where they constituted a legendary military caste), particularly in areas now comprising southern Russia and Ukraine.

    “Feel free to sing with us, so we could feel your support.”

    Sing with them.  Feel their support.  If you were to cry out to the world for support, would it be done so sweetly, not so much as a cry, but as a declaration?

    I declare war on the war on Ukraine.

    I hate war and oppose it whenever I can.  I vociferously opposed the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan when just about everybody needed it, wanting blood for 9/11/01.  I said, “This war will not change anything.”  I was so wrong.  It changed everything for the worse.  Still, I fully, unequivocally support and defend the right and need of Ukraine’s people to rise, fight, and kill in self- defense, in defense of humanity.

    Is it practical for Ukraine to fight a war against Russia?  Can they win without NATO troops?

    History not was but is.  –Faulkner

    Look at history.  Look at how Afghanistan kicked out the Russian-controlled Soviet Union, a war that was a big factor in the fall of the Soviet Union.  They did it because of the massive, long term military help of the U.S. without NATO or U.S. deploying troops, though we did deploy the CIA.

    See my article and video, The U.S. Gave the Taliban Fertile Ground in the 1990s for more on the topic.  For an entertaining telling of the story about our defeat of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, see the movie Charlie Wilson’s War.  With the cast Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Philip Seymour Hoffman (the best one in the show), Amy Adams and Ned Beatty, you can’t go wrong, especially with a screenplay written by Aaron Sorkin, directed by Mike Nichols, and with music by James Newton Howard.  Hanks co-produced it, too.  Or, go deeper and read the book, Charlie Wilson’s War; The Extraordinary Story How the Wildest Man in Congress and a Rogue CIA Agent Changed the History of Our Times by George Crile.

    It may not work the same way as in Afghanistan, but we can do it again in Ukraine.  Remember, I refer not to what we did to Afghanistan from 1990 to 2021.  That is a thirty year bloodbath of American failures, beginning with abandoning the Mujahideen fighters after the Soviets were pushed out.  This opened the door to the Taliban (and their client, Al Qaeda) to rise in Afghanistan, ultimately to “911” (September 11, 2001 Al Qaeda terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. … just clarifying for the youngest generation), and to the U.S. revenge invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.  Don’t take it that I think we planted tulips all over Afghanistan.  One may rightly say that we ruined them, and they are now literally starving.

    I refer to our helping Afghanistan defeat the Soviet Union without our sending troops in the 1980s.  I have heard Congressman Charlie Wilson on multiple occasions say that we did not win that war.  He credits the great bravery and commitment of the Mujahideen fighters as the ground on which our military help operated.  He said that before we did anything (when our budget for helping them was only $5million), his heart was turned to them by their refusal to give up in the face of continual setbacks.  That’s Ukraine, too.

    Ukraine’s military, technology, education of citizens, and economy are far more advanced than anything Afghanistan has ever known.  They are imposing great damage to Russia’s forces as I write this.  They will not surrender.  However, they do not have the resources to win decisively in the short run against Russia.  It could take decades without a massive surge, an infusion, of military, cyber-technical, fuel, food, shelter and other humanitarian support, and economic aid from the U.S. and others.  And donations from individuals, groups, organizations and companies.  See Verified ways to help Ukraine now, Euromaidan Press.

    We have a unified global position of total opposition to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, with the E.U., NATO, Australia, Japan and others.  They need to stop talking about how to control Putin and start talking, immediately, about how to enable Ukrainians of all kinds (civilians are engaged in the fight) to stop the Russian forces and send them home to their families, preferably alive, but if necessary, in bits and pieces and puddles.  I’m not a Quaker.

    Putin will not stop at Ukraine.  Ukraine is the future.  Help them fight, and fight anyone who opposes helping them in every way we can.

    This is not about hatred of Russian people.  Hatred of Putin and his sociopath ilk (Hitler, Stalin, Idi Amin, Mao, Pol Pot, Duterte, Kim Jong-un, Donald Trump, etc.), yes, but not the Russian people.  Russians are fighting for us, too.  As may be heard among masses of anti-Putin activists being arrested in the streets of Russia:

    Слава Украине!  Glory to Ukraine!

    Below are the lyrics in English as sung above (the original poem on which the official anthem is based) and in Ukrainian.  I obtained these with gratitude from Euromaidan Press (read their impressive About page), “an online English-language independent newspaper launched by Ukrainian volunteers in 2014,” certain to become outlawed in a Russian occupied Ukraine.  This is also where I found the above video, in the 2015 article, The National Anthem of Ukraine translated to English.

    Glorious spirit of Ukraine shines and lives forever.
    Blessed by Fortune brotherhood will stand up together.
    Like the dew before the sun enemies will fade,
    We will further rule and prosper in our promised land.
    Ще не вмерла України ні слава, ні воля.
    Ще нам, браття молодії, усміхнеться доля.
    Згинуть наші вороженьки, як роса на сонці,
    Запануєм і ми, браття, у своїй сторонці.
    We will lay our soul and body for the cherished freedom.
    Cossack blood will raise the nation of the joyous people.
    Душу, тіло ми положим за нашу свободу,
    І покажем, що ми, браття, козацького роду.
    For the liberty the folk strives ardently from San to Don,
    And will let no alien power in our common home.
    Aged Dnieper and Black Sea arm in arm rejoice,
    And Ukraine will see daylight and live by Fortune’s choice.
    Станем, браття, в бій кривавий від Сяну до Дону,
    В ріднім краю панувати не дамо нікому;
    Чорне море ще всміхнеться, дід Дніпро зрадіє,
    Ще у нашій Україні доленька наспіє.
    We will lay our soul and body for the cherished freedom.
    Cossack blood will raise the nation of the joyous people.
    Душу, тіло ми положим за нашу свободу,
    І покажем, що ми, браття, козацького роду.
    Passion and hard-working hands prove bright future true.
    Song of freedom, loud and clear, guides us all way through.
    Over mountains and steppes it flows, over ages told.
    Valorous Ukraine stands strong in a thriving world.
    А завзяття, праця щира свого ще докаже,
    Ще ся волі в Україні піснь гучна розляже,
    За Карпати відоб’ється, згомонить степами,
    України слава стане поміж народами.
    We will lay our soul and body for the cherished freedom.
    Cossack blood will raise the nation of the joyous people.
    Душу, тіло ми положим за нашу свободу,
    І покажем, що ми, браття, козацького роду.

    flag 668px

    National Anthem of Ukraine (audio):

    Thank you for reading this far, but there’s important stuff below.


    Related reading:

    Article: Stories Of Ukrainian Heroism Are Emerging And Giving The Country Hope “Acts of unthinkable bravery by Ukrainian citizens have already ascended into legend across the country, boosting morale and galvanizing a nationwide resistance that has already proved formidable in the face of Russia’s massive and experienced military.”   by Christopher Miller, Isobel Koshiw, Pete Kiehart, BuzzFeed News, posted 2/28/2022

    The Official Website of Ukraine and Ukraine Before the War
    The information on these websites is verified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine (MFA). Developed by PlusOne Social Impact, “the Ukrainian team of experts in communications, strategies, and complex creative campaigns.”  Watch out for fake sites.

    The official website of the President of Ukraine contains news, photos, videos and more from the office of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (Володимир Зеленський).

    See also these official pages:
    https://www.facebook.com/UkraineUA.MFA/
    https://www.instagram.com/ukraine.ua

    Article: Verified ways to help Ukraine now, Euromaidan Press – Feb. 27, 2022 – “Based on popular request, we have updated our page on organizations helping the Ukrainian army that accept donations from abroad — now the info is as of January 2022. You can still access the original 2014 version in the Web Archive. … This list includes only trustworthy initiatives, most of which are organized by people personally known by Euromaidan Press members and that have clear and transparent financial reports. For suggestions for updates to this page, please write to euromaidanpress@gmail.com.” This is not just a list. It is an impressive, comprehensive narrative on each agency, plus names of people, websites, contact information, and dollar and euro bank accounts accepting donations.

    Article: War in Ukraine has rewritten Germany’s political ideology, Euromaidan Press. “German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock addressed a special meeting of the German Parliament on Sunday. Her speech is historic for the country, as well as for the rest of Europe. … The day before, the remaining German resistance to aiding Ukraine’s fight against Russia’s invasion fell, and with it, a new era has dawned upon the European landscape. In a joint statement from Baerbock and Vice Chancellor Robert Haebeck, Germany has agreed to a ‘targeted and functional restriction of SWIFT’ against specific Russian banks, allowing the passage of a measure from which they had been the main dissenting voice. … At the same time, Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced that the country was deploying 500 Stinger surface-to-air missiles and 1,000 anti-tank weapons to Ukraine’s frontlines, a decision which followed the announcement that they would also be sending 9 howitzers, 10,000 tons of fuel, 400 rocket-propelled grenades, and 14 armored personnel carriers through NATO allies Poland, Estonia, and The Netherlands.”  Go, Germany!      —>go to the full article—>


    #StopRussianAggression      #RussiaInvadedUkraine
    #UkraineCrisis            #UkraineUnderAttack


    Slava Ukraini!


  • Anna Vorosheva wants help getting back to hell (3/24/2022)

    Whether or not it is optimistic that we continue, we must continue.  –Hong Kong rebel.

    Ukraine festive banner vertical cr2 enh 172x200In this recording from the BBC World Service Newshour podcast of 20220324, you can hear Anna Vorosheva, a 45-year-old resident businesswoman of Mariupol, Ukraine, talk about seeking ways to get back to the hell she survived.  She describes what she lived through in ways you rarely hear, with details we all should hear.  Her passionate explanation for going back she puts into one word: conscience.

    Audio (7 minutes):

    She wants help getting back:Mariupol condition 20220314b



    #STANDWITHUKRAINE (https://war.ukraine.ua/support-ukraine/ … official Ukraine website) says, “You can save lives, no matter where in the world you are.  A simple donation. A few clicks on your keyboard. A message to the right person.  Everything you need to help Ukrainians in their fight for peace and freedom – in one place.”

    https://war.ukraine.ua/support-ukraine/


    To the women …


    The dead fight.  People dead in streets.  They fight.  They fight in me.  I am not dead yet.  –Unidentified woman near Mariupol, Ukraine.


  • Long Live the Dead (4/10/2022)

    Watch this 97-minute Netflix documentary now released for free viewing in YouTube (or catch it on Netflix if you have it), “Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom.”  It is about the 2014 Maidan (or The Maidan Revolution) by fearless, relentless, unstoppable, unarmed, non-violent protesters against ruthless militarized police forces and brutal mercenaries in Kyiv, Ukraine when the president sold out to Putin instead of signing an agreement with the European Union as promised to a People yearning to build upon the freedom they claimed when they declared their independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 (is this still a sentence?).

    This is a story that we can learn from, if we are to defend our freedom when our time comes, and it seems to be coming sooner than I ever believed it could.  Democracy in the United States is at greater risk than ever.  I know people don’t get it, don’t think so, can’t believe it.  They just don’t know, because, like Putin’s duped citizens, they can’t.  Some others may have to die because of it, if we are to succeed.

    Watch this documentary and see what the dead can do when they know the truth and fight for it, when their courage inspires victory for the living, when they find out just how fragile democracy can be, and how precious, and give their lives for it.

    Don’t waste your brain energy calling me pessimistic.  It doesn’t matter anymore.  Whether I am pessimistic or not, the warning must go out.  Whether my efforts are pessimistic or not, I must continue, especially because so many others will not prepare for the trouble we so likely face.  The Autocracy Party has just about all the guns, and the willingness to use them for delusional reasons.  Are you ready for that?

    I am preparing for the fall of democracy in the United States.  You should, too.  You have nothing to lose by being prepared, and a free nation to gain.

    My truly optimistic take on it says that with preparation and dedication to protecting our civilization, we can succeed.  Otherwise, we go into something like a Dark Age.  An optimist looks ahead and sees ways to succeed, not ways to act in the future, or to hope to do, but ways to act now for the sake of the future.  Preparation is optimistic.  It says there is a way, so take it.  Optimism is not merely about hoping for the best.  In fact, that’s just stupid in many instances.  Hope can be stupid.  I am preparing, not hoping.

    Now, in 2022, Putin wants to take away from Ukraine what they earned in the past, what death bought for them in 2014.  Watching this documentary, you’ll see why they will NEVER let him take it from them, and they will continue fighting from the grave that they do not fear.

    Me neither.  My grave is not something to fear, except by our enemies.


    Slava Ukraini!  Glory to Ukraine!  Learn from them to never give up!

    Long live the dead.

    Olena was wounded on February 24, 2022, the day Russia invaded Ukraine.  She and over forty-four million Ukrainians and other residents there need our help.  Helping them helps us.  It may even save us from ourselves.

    Wounded Olena Kurilo in Kharkiv Feb 24, 2022 color pencil

    Wounded Olena Kurilo in Kharkiv Feb 24, 2022. (Color pencil derived from photo.)


    The remainder of this post is copied from https://war.ukraine.ua/support-ukraine/ – Official website of Ukraine government

    [I’m putting this at the top of their list, from where they had it near the bottom, because it is something EVERYBODY must do: USE VERIFIED SOURCES OF INFORMATION.  You’d think this would be obvious to people.  IT IS DEFINITELY NOT GENERALLY SO.]  Read & share only verified news. Russia is conducting a propaganda & information war, reinforcing their bloody aggression with lies and fakes.  Please support the truth by trusting only official news sources. You can find a list of verified sources HERE.

    You can save lives, no matter where in the world you are.

    A simple donation. A few clicks on your keyboard. A message to the right person.

    Everything you need to help Ukrainians in their fight for peace and freedom – in one place.

    • All
    • Donate
    • Humanitarian aid
    • Host Ukrainian refugees
    • Become a medical volunteer
    • Cover the news and write about Ukraine
    • Read & share only verified news
    • Join the Foreign Legion

    Humanitarian aid

    Support real people suffering from the war: families, children, refugees, medics.

    Official state hotline numbers for providing humanitarian aid:
    Calls from abroad or Ukraine: +380 44 237 00 02

    Humanitarian aid account of the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine
    (food, shelter, medicine, clothes and other help for refugees):

    Find the bank transfer details for your appropriate currency here.

    UNICEF Fund for supporting Ukrainian children:
    Find the official details here.

    Ministry of Health + Red Cross fund for assisting doctors:
    Scroll down after the press statement, for the bank transfer details in the currency of your choice – here.

    Ministry of Health Crypto Wallets for assisting doctors:
    Find the official details here.

    Host Ukrainian refugees

    Families, children, and refugees are seeking safe places of shelter around the world. You can save lives by providing a place to stay.

    • Find groups and global services that can help host refugees in your area/country (NGOs, local communities, etc).
    • If none exist in your area and you feel you can help – create your own Facebook groups and/or local initiatives!
    • Reach out to local authorities and inquire about organizing official refugee programs.
    • Contact your Ukranian friends and find out if they are heading to the borders and need help.

    Become a medical volunteer

    Every day more and more families and children need medical assistance due to Russian aggression. Soldiers need emergency medical aid. Ukrainian medics sorely need assistance both on the front lines and in the rear.

    If you have medical experience – you can save lives!

    Fill out the form here: https://bit.ly/questionnaire_UA

    Full details from the Ministry of Health here.

    Cover the news and write about Ukraine

    If you are a journalist, you can help Ukraine by spreading the truth and providing media coverage. Help secure peace and save lives!

    Contact for media requests/questions:

    Oleg Nikolenko, Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, mfa.ukraine@gmail.com

    Here you can find a media kit with the official message box from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine (updated daily).

    Read & share only verified news

    Russia is conducting a propaganda & information war, reinforcing their bloody aggression with lies and fakes.

    Please support the truth by trusting only official news sources.

    You can find a list of verified sources here.

    Join the Foreign Legion

    If you have the experience and the motivation, you can help protect Ukraine directly by joining the Foreign Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine. The best way to do so is via your nearest Ukrainian Embassy or Consulate.

    Protect freedom & peace in our fight against Russian aggression! APPLY HERE


  • The Putin Circus and a child’s love of her homeland in song (4/27/2022)

    Please share this funny Putin video if you like it.  That’s why I post them.  So you can share them.  This is the YouTube link to share: https://youtu.be/t-wFKNy0MZQ if you are not foolish enough to share the link to the blog post you are looking at.  Doesn’t matter.  I’ll never know.  But I do not mind at all being a fool for the glory of Ukraine, in silly ways and others.

    Oh, I almost forgot to tell you … below the comedy here, there’s also the April 24, 2022 world premier official music video of the Ukrainian very young lady Alicia Kishe, accompanied by her father Timothy, singing the song she wrote, “Ukraine is a World of Love” sung in Ukrainian (a language that gets more beautiful the more you hear it) with English subtitles.  I think some people will like it; fools like me and otherwise.  Please share it when you get done adoring it.  Then adore it some more.  Let Alicia be Ukraine to you for a while.

    TURN ON CAPTIONS (CC AT THE BOTTOM OF THE VIDEO WINDOW) TO SEE THE ENGLISH SUBTITLES.  It works best if you watch it at the YouTube site.  For a special treat, run them in full screen mode.

    Vladimir Putin – Putin, Putout (The Unofficial Russian Anthem) by Klemen Slakonja

    [The name Vladimir means “ruler of the world” or “ruler of peace.”]



    Enough of the funny stuff.  Now for the heart-melting beautiful stuff, what you always come here for, of course …

    Introducing Alicia Kishe, in Ukraine is a Beautiful World (YouTube link), her response to war, or one of her responses.  I think she will have more.

    This is my own special still image capture from the video.  See if you can get a better one.  Nah.  Forget it.  This one beats all.

    Alicia KisheHere and now on April 27, 2022, you are among the first people in the world to see this video, since it just came out on April 24.  As of this moment, it has had only 64,332 views, and I can’t find it published anywhere else yet.

    Hey!  Wait a minute!  64,332 views in THREE days and no other web exposure?  That can’t be right.  Can it?  Hmm.  I think she may have a hit here.  She does with me.

    Please help her get out her beautiful message.  Make it go insanely viral around the world, right into the hearts of all Russians, rising as it does like a mountain of sunflowers (Ukrainian national flower) from the bowels of war.  Share the link: https://youtu.be/oA6MY3_ptxY 

    Alicia is Ukraine.

    I have not found her age, but she appears to be not more than 10 years old.

    Hmm.  Now it says 64,384 views.  No, wait.  Now it’s …

    Oh, never mind.  See how many it is by the time you get to it.  Share it, for Alicia, for Ukraine, for the world.

    Glory to Ukraine.  Glory to Alicia.

    You can help Ukraine.  See StandForUkraine.com or StandWithUkraine for links to many safe, verified ways you can EASILY do that, and it should go without saying that every dollar counts.  Even my trickle.  I recommend the Come Back Alive charity, the International Rescue Committee, and the UN World Food ProgrammeThank you!


  • “Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes” (4/29/2022)

    In a comment on my previous post (introducing the new video “Ukraine is a World of Love” by Alicia Kishe), a friend wrote, “It was painful watching the video of Alicia. The beauty and sweetness I saw … and Putin blowing it up.”



    By the way, folks, be happy for Alicia Kishe.  I happen to know from experience of her elsewhere that she is thrilled to see Views and Likes and Subscribes.  Please reward her.  It will mean a lot to her.  For a little extra fun, here is Alicia’s latest self-made 19-second home video, posted April 26, 2022, titled, “I Just Dance.”  Stop by and give her a Like and good wishes:


    Cracks me up.

    My reply to my friend’s comment got out of hand, so I moved it to this new post instead of a comment.

    Friend, I believe that you speak for many people who get struck by the video that way, but most would not say so out loud as you have, for fear that they would be admitting that they did not “get it” in the expected or “appropriately” sentimental way. That kind of expectation just adds to the pain.  The only “appropriate” way is to try, as one is able, to keep an open mind.  That can be hard to do in pain.

    You got me thinking more about the ways Alicia’s video can affect people, and about the overall situation in Ukraine and my relationship with it.

    The heart yearns in all directions. This one is Alicia’s. She clings to the beauty that you see, with faith that it will not be utterly destroyed because it is, in essence, more than anything Putin can destroy.

    Ukraine’s cultural history involves repeated instances of being driven to despair — literally mass slaughter and widespread starvation — most notably under the brutality of Russia, under its Catherine the Great, its Stalin, and its Putin. Yet they still sing of not just victory, but of recovery. The world may yet learn to stop underestimating the Cossack spirit.

    The first line of Alicia’s song, in the midst of the worst devastation there since Stalin, is, “Our destiny is the greatest in the world.” Delusional or inspired? And it declares, “We will get back our world of love.” I wish I could say that about America, have that hope, that vision.

    At 1:06 in the song, combat scenes run for five seconds, where the weapon fire is all reversed, taking back the rockets and artillery shells. Then she sings, “Our country will be forever. Tell the world about all the nicest things we have.”

    They do it again at 2:45, for the last five seconds of the song, with Alicia singing, “We will get back our world of love,” as the bombs reverse and go back into their weapons. It’s just an image, of course, but it helps the lyric make its point. The majority of the video images are beautiful scenes of places, people and events in Ukraine, their inspiration to make the bombs stop.  It’s a celebratory song.

    “Tell the world about all the nicest things we have.” It’s an interesting alternative to saying, “Come save us.” From the start of Putin’s threat of invasion, I have felt compelled to avoid bemoaning the tragedy and instead glorify the people of Ukraine and its natural wonders. I have little hope that we will learn to put an end to war by learning about the destruction of war, its horrors and brutalities and insanity. We may, however, learn from war what we have, who we are, and what to sing.

    For now, in telling, as Alicia asks, I’m telling about some of their music … there are more Ukrainian songs coming to this blog, amazing ones rooted in antiquity.

    Alicia adds, “We are lighting lights with our singing.” The scene turns to that of a little girl seeing a sea of lights in the hands of tens of thousands of people as she, a refugee-survivor, sang the Ukraine national anthem a capella in a charity event in Poland. It was little Amelia Anisovych, first recorded singing to her fellow victims in a bomb shelter, “Let it Go” from the Disney animated feature, “Frozen.” Amelia, as I assume also with Alicia, is a national icon now. Alicia nails it when she says they are lighting lights with singing. They are singing lights, burning holes in the dark.

    Amelia Anisovych in Poland

    Amelia Anisovych, singing Ukrainian National Anthem to massive crowd at fundraising event in Poland, where she is in refuge from her war-torn Ukraine.  (Yep, another of my award winning still image captures from a real video.  I awarded myself this remark about it.)


    My power flurries through the air into the ground
    My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around
    And one thought crystallizes like an icy blast:
    I’m never going back, the past is in the past!
    – from the song Let it Go in in Disney’s film, Frozen

    The bomb shelter was noisy with suffering, some people laying on the floor, some crying, some chatting, everyone about as uncomfortable as people get with bombs landing above.  The big basement room fell silent as Amelia ministered to their hearts with an angelic voice just doing something she loves to do. She says that she sings as often as she can because it’s all she wants to do. She could easily inspire any decent human being to throw themselves onto a grenade to help save her country. Her message, however, was no message at all. It was just her singing someone else’s song in hell. The message is what she inspires in others.

    I hear glory.




    Maybe best of all, Alicia Kishe’s video shows rockets and canon fire reversing, back into the weapons. The song is saying, for one thing, “We will reverse this.” Overall, in the 3 minute song, the military parts did not occupy more than 15 seconds, and only a few seconds of scenes of destruction, a few seconds of anguished faces. Overall, the song is about children inspiring the future of the nation that the adults must not lose, and will not.

    I assume that there are millions of Ukrainians who have lost all faith, have had it pounded out of them, ripped and torn from their souls, skewered in their hearts, minds and bodies. Alicia’s song and graphically intense video have them in mind. Before this is over, more than half of all Ukrainians will have faced severe impacts of the war. An estimate I heard yesterday said 25 of their 44 million people. It’s a little hard to get my head around half the US population, 165 million American lives wrecked, maimed, grossly impoverished, raped, tortured, made homeless, killed, property and possessions obliterated, lands destroyed and poisoned.  Livestock and pets slain, some tortured.  Towns flattened.  Ancient monuments, structures, cathedrals destroyed.

    On the other hand, it’s also hard to get my head around the indomitable spirit that will make Ukraine and its beauty win in the end. They will, at unbelievable cost, but they will. And I’m not known for being especially optimistic about a lot of things. They will win because they have so much to live for, and the heart to strive for it, as Alicia and Amelia show us.  They will win also with the help they inspire from us.

    I’m not sure my country has that much to live for, it seeming doomed to me now. Painful as it is, some of us need to be reminded of the horror of the war, to be pushed to stay in touch with it, now in Ukraine (but also any day anywhere, including New York and Texas and San Francisco — we are not immune), because ultimately we die with Ukraine if we do not help save her. If we are not doomed yet, we will be if Putin wins in Ukraine.

    As the famous Ukrainian singer Tina Karol put it at a concert, on stage holding hands with Amelia Anisovych, “We are the brave nation that saves the whole world.” If they lose, we all lose.  (10-second clip)


    Weeks ago I said, “I wonder how many days it will be before the war falls off the front page?” To my greater dismay, the savagery of the war is enough to keep it on the front page despite our short attention span and long ignorance of things in the real world.

    Most people in this country don’t know what is going on and could not find Ukraine on a map if you told them it was in Eastern Europe between the Black Sea and Poland. They need videos like Alicia’s to wake them up to the reality that their children are just like Ukraine’s, live like them, suffer like them, die like them. Sing lights like them.

    My Friend, whether yours are tears of beauty responding to beauty, or tears of pain responding to evil contrasted with the same beauty, they are all “the right tears.” Alicia’s song is precious in more ways than I can count or relate. Yours are yours. It is what she showed you. The pain she aroused is possible because of your love and compassion. Still, I suggest revisiting the song and the images to see if she can also inspire you in other ways. She may not be able to take away the pain, but she may be able to add something.

    Alicia’s father, Tim (“KisheOfficial” YouTube artist channel) wrote (as far as I can make out from the clumsy Google Translate output), “At this difficult time for our country, we Ukrainians united for the sake of [defeating] the Russian aggressor. We combined our efforts in all directions. Our heroic soldiers in their hands protect our land, our brave and tireless volunteers create miracles and get everything they need for our soldiers and for all Ukrainians who need help, medicines, food, clothing. Our musical family is involved in charitable and volunteer assistance and continues to write Ukrainian songs and shoot [videos]. Our generation must take care of the future of our children and our children join the [historic?] front, and sing beautiful songs with all heart and soul! Songs of hope and love to support each other and every Ukrainian.”

    Efforts in all directions. His is music. I think he is emphasizing the need to keep children (and the child within me) uplifted by love and beauty, to protect them from utter desolation of the heart, to protect them from incurable pain. In its way, the song can be nourishing and an aid to healing.

    The war scenes in the video can — not always, not for everyone, but for many, I believe — actually amplify the beauty, rally hearts to beauty’s cause, energize their faith in one another to sustain their culture, and glorify the good, the true and the beautiful, by showing in war scenes what is lost if we let go, give up in the face of evil’s endless onslaught, which comes also from “all directions.”

    If I could show you all the evil in me, cumulative as it arose over the years, you would not like me one bit.  Might want me rubbed out.  Bumped off.  But there’s Nature and music and art sustaining something worthwhile despite myself. I can’t give up. I owe too much. I am often on the edge, and there are often songs or flowers or birds with me there. Ukraine is being shoved to the edge of extinction. Every last note of every song, every whispered line, is keeping her alive, as with me. We are Ukraine beyond our ken. We are her war and her beauty. They both sing.

    If I say “I/we am/are Ukraine” or “Ukraine is me/us,” I do it aware of the existence of evil in all directions, along with the existence of something greater: unity in the good. Songs are great tools for binding hearts, in both their lovely and their ugly parts. Music and art fit us together like puzzle pieces.

    Tim continues, “Our little music team wants to present my daughter’s debut song, which she invented and together with our musical producer, wrote it and recorded it. This creative tandem was joined by our ward Jane, who has not long presented her song – ‘My Land.’  She helped with the text of the song and I have joined this work as a video-maker. … So the song “Ukraine-world of love” from our children to all heroic Ukrainians! … The victory will be for us! Glory to Ukraine!”

    In context, it is apparent that he refers to everyone involved in the project, of all ages, as “our children,” the children of our team, of our mission.

    “Ukraine is a world of love” … Music: Alicia Kishe / Timothy Reshetko; Words: Alicia Kishe/ Timothy Reshetko/ Ivan Rushko/ Kishe / Jane; Arrangement: Timothy Reshetko; Video/Regesors/Camera/Installation: Kishe

    Tim mentioned Jane. Below is her song created with Kishe Recording. It hurts, too. I don’t blame anybody from turning away as long as it is done out of awareness and compassion, not out of disrespectful, uncaring brutality. But it is a rousing new patriotic song, and loaded with beauty despite war. I hope it rouses love for Ukraine, even if not hope for now.

    Моя Земля (MY LAND) by Jane & Vishnevskiy (English subtitles built in – no need to turn on captions) …


    These are the notes they put on the song’s YouTube page:

    “In this difficult time for our country, all of us Ukrainians have united for one goal – Victory! Everyone does everything they can. Our Warriors of Light with weapons in their hands protect, defend us, our cities and destroy the enemy!

    ”Glory to the Heroes!’

    “In the pauses between volunteering and the information war, our creative team is trying to create Ukrainian music, because our language, our culture and our songs are also weapons. But this is still our essence and our worldview! With our music we have to fill the hearts of Ukrainians and inspire them to live, to fight, to win! Because we are on our land, the truth is on our side, and the love for our Ukraine is in our hearts!

    “Creative tandem of young performers Jane & Vyshevsky under professional guidance Kishe and music producer Tymofiy Reshetko created the song “My Land”, and Kishe captured some moments from his stockpile of drone flights and, using material from the network, edited a very powerful video series!

    “We want to support everyone with our work! Our Heroes, our people of Ukraine and ourselves! ❤️ Together we are fighting for the true independence and freedom of our Ukraine!

    “Support our work !!

    “🇺🇦❤️Glory to Ukraine! ❤️🇺🇦

    “Authors of music and lyrics: JANE / VISHNEVSKY / Kishe; Recording and compilation: Tymofiy Reshetko (TIM); Video series: Kishe”


    By the way, the view count on Alicia’s video is now (April 29, 2022 2:00 PM NY) 83,820, up from 64,332 when I found it two days ago.  It was released April 24.  That’s an average of about 17,000 views per day.  Well, yeah, a few thousand of them were mine.

    I could not find the lyrics written out, so I typed them as they appear in the video. And I love the music that Alicia’s voice and words ride upon.

    Ukraine is a World of Love
    by Alicia Kishe & Family

    Our destiny is the greatest in the world
    Our will is so strong even if we’re young
    Children are singing together every day
    For Ukraine cause this is all we have

    Ukraine you are like a bright sky
    You will bloom this is all we need
    Through all the tears together with you
    We will get back our world of love

    Our country will be forever
    Tell the world about all the nicest things we have
    We are lighting a light with our singing
    Because my friends we are not alone

    Ukraine you are like a bright sky
    You will bloom this is all we need
    Through all the tears together with you
    We will get back our world of love

    [Rap interlude]
    The world of beauty, the world of love
    And our youngsters are carrying kindness
    and keeping our will strong
    For their future and for their destiny
    We’re giving everything we have
    and everyone let’s go to battle
    There will be no tears anymore, no tiredness
    Eternal memory of our heroic warriors
    Even though our hearts are wounded
    We are cherishing the hope
    Because we believe that Ukraine will rebuild its Dream

    Ukraine you are like a bright sky
    You will bloom this is all we need
    Through all the tears together with you
    We will get back our world of love

    Ukraine you are like a bright sky
    You will bloom this is all we need
    Through all the tears together with you
    We will get back our world of love

    ———————————————

    Is our destiny the greatest in the world?
    Do we inspire that belief in our children?

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


  • Oh, Red Viburnum in the Meadow – Ukraine’s Second Anthem (5/14/2022)

    For the love of Ukraine.

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

    Слава в калині.  Slava v kalyni.  Glory to the kalyna.

    Viburnum opulus, red viburnum, Ukrainian: chervona kalyna

    This is an “epic length” post, loaded with inspiring pictures and music videos, factual information, a lot of history, and a lot of love.  Take it as a “time-out for Ukraine” for an afternoon, or a little day to day.  Of course, you should always scroll down if you are bored.  There will be something less boring ahead.  I promise.

    .

    Speaking at the 2022 Grammy Awards ceremony by video from a bunker, Ukraine President Volodomyr Zelenskyy said:

    “The war. What is more opposite to music? The silence of ruined cities and killed people. Our children draw swooping rockets, not shooting stars. Over 400 children have been injured and 153 children died. And we’ll never see them drawing. Our parents are happy to wake up in the morning in bomb shelters. But alive. Our loved ones don’t know if we will be together again. The war doesn’t let us choose who survives and who stays in eternal silence.

    “Our musicians wear body armor instead of tuxedos. They sing to the wounded in hospitals, even to those who can’t hear them. But the music will break through anyway. We defend our freedom to live, to love, to sound on our land. We are fighting Russia, which brings horrible silence with its bombs. The dead silence. Fill the silence with your music. Fill it today to tell our story.

    Sunflower, national flower of Ukraine and major crop

    “Tell the truth about the war on your social networks, on TV. Support us in any way you can. Any — but not silence. And then peace will come. To all our cities the war is destroying — Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Volnovakha, Mariupol and others — they are legends already. But I have a dream of them living and free. Free like you on the Grammy stage.”  — from NY Times April 3, 2022, Volodymyr Zelensky speaks to Grammys audience in a prerecorded video.


    “Music will break through anyway … Fill the silence with your music!
    Fill it today, to tell our story.”

    Click any photo to open it full-screen in another tab/window.

    Feb 27, 2022 – Rally in Berlin, Germany against Russian invasion
    of Ukraine on Feb 24, 2022.  What’s up in your town?

    What do you think?  Is there hope for humanity?
    There is Berlin, and there are trees.

    Where is love?  In Ukraine’s chervona kalyna (red viburnum) tree “snowball” flowers.  They are blooming now all over much of Asia, Europe, North Africa and North America, variants in some cases, but almost identical.

    “Tell the truth about the war on your social networks, on TV.  Support us in any way you can.  Any — but not silence.  And then peace will come. “ –Zelenskyy

    He said “any way you can … but not silence.”  This is my place, TheBalsamean.com, to not be silent in support of Ukraine.  I begin with what Ukraine says, by its president, and by its website on the war: visit https://war.ukraine.ua/ “… the official website of Ukraine. The information is verified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.”

    The war photos here came from there, because they have so many images of inspired Ukrainians confronting war with the best of themselves.  Confronting war itself.  These images of Ukrainians speak from what they are, who they are, and how they are winning: with love.

    A woman kisses a man while cooking on a fire outside their house in Bucha.
    Since the Russian invasion, there has been no water, gas, or electricity here.
    April 2022.  Photo by Vadym Chirda.

    Ukrainians’ extraordinary confidence of victory arises from love of each other, of freedom, and of their nation.  It is expressed in Oh, Red Viburnum in the Meadow (Ой у лузі червона калина – Oi u luzi chervona kalyna), their “second anthem,” inspired by their official national plant, a tree, chervona kalyna (червона калина), the red viburnum (or guelder-rose viburnum, Viburnum opulus),

    The song originally celebrated the heroism and skill of the Sich Riflemen of the Ukrainian People’s Army from 1917-1921.  I offer a roughly sketched history, intending only to highlight some connections from the current culture back to the Sich and the Cossacks.  The red viburnum song celebrates the Sich Riflemen, and the National Anthem makes direct reference to the Cossack culture.

    Residents of Mykolaiv gather water from the river after the Russian rocket interrupted the water supply in the city.   April 22, 2022.  Photo by Kostia Liberov

    The Sich Riflemen developed out of the former World War I Austro-Hungarian Army’s Ukrainian Sich Riflemen, or Legion of Ukrainian Sich Riflemen, 1913-1918, before becoming a regular unit of Ukraine’s army.

    Commissioning of the first company of the Legion of Ukrainian Sich Riflemen, March 18, 1913.

    Modern Ukraine lies partly in what had been Galicia, a region in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  Galicia spanned what is now Eastern Poland and Western Ukraine.  Galicia’s largest city is the current Lviv that you hear so much about in news of the Russian war on Ukraine.  Lviv is a gateway for Ukrainian refugees escaping to Poland, where they are welcomed.

    Map of Galicia (white) circa 1882.
    Click the map for a better view.

    The roots of the Sich Riflemen stretch back to before 1894.  A rising national consciousness among Ukrainians in Galicia brought about Ukrainian youth organizations that eventually lead to the formation in 1900 of a sports/firefighting organization, or Sich.

    The term sich dates back at least to the 15th Century in the Cossack culture of what is today Central and Eastern Ukraine.

    A sich was an administrative and military centre of the Zaporozhian Cossacks. The word sich derives from the Ukrainian verb сікти siktý, “to chop” – with the implication of clearing a forest for an encampment or of building a fortification with the trees that have been chopped down.  [Generally the term came to be synonymous with a fort or the community occupying it.]

    The Zaporizhian Sich was the fortified capital of the Zaporozhian Cossacks, [for which the current city of Zaporizhzhia is named] located on the Dnieper River, in the 16th–18th centuries in the area of what is today Ukraine. The Sich Rada [an elected body] was the highest organ of government in the Zaporozhian Host, or army of the Zaporozhian Cossacks.  — Wikipedia article on Sich

    Zaporozhian Cossack painting by Konstantin Makovsky, 1884

    You’ll begin to sense the origin of the independent spirit and gutsiness of Ukraine as you read this, and get a sense of at least a portion of their pride in their Cossack beginnings.

    The youth Sich that formed in 1900 sparked a movement.

    [It] rejuvenated the ideas of Cossack Zaporozhian Sich to foster the national patriotism among the young generation. Alongside these organizations, forming all across Galicia, parallel sports/firefighting organizations were also springing up. By 1912, many smaller Sich companies appeared in numerous Ukrainian communities. Along with these youth organizations, a Women’s Organizational Committee was set up to train nurses. The Ukrainian Sich Union coordinated the activities of all local Sich companies and printed its own newspaper, “The Sich News.”  By the start of the First World War there were at least 2000 such organizations in Galicia and Bukovyna. — Wikipedia article on Ukrainian Sick Riflemen [emphases mine]

    What is the connection between Ukrainian national pride and the Cossack Zaporozhian Sich (and other Cossack organizations) at the heart of Ukraine culture from the 16th to 18th Centuries?  (Russia destroyed them by 1780 after a history of violating agreements with them.)

    17th Century Zaporizhian Cossacks in an 1847 painting.

    The Cossack history is far too complex for me to tell here.  I do not have a thorough grasp of it anyway.  Instead, I will highlight some key points, as I see it.

    1.  The Cossacks innovated democratic design in their communities.
    2. They were renowned for horsemanship, military and naval prowess, to the extent that they were recruited by other countries to fight for them.
    3. They had a court system that ensured justice.
    4. They were fiercely independent, sometimes fighting against three bigger forces at the same time.  These foes included all the surrounding empires, Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman, Polish-Lithuanian, Russian Tsardom. Russian Empire, and even the Mongol Hordes.  At various times in its history, the area known as Ukraine was controlled by each of these empires, but respectful of the Cossacks, often relying on them, when not fighting them!Cossack horseman/soldier.  Date unknown, probably late 19th Century.
    5. I do not see any evidence that they were ever slavers.
    6. There were many siches, in communities something like clans, independently governed, but in agreement that when faced with an enemy, they all joined forces.  Every man was essentially “in the military” for most of his life.  He went about his normal civilian affairs, but mounted and rode when called.
    7. The formations of siches in the 1890s and 1900s distinctly harked back to Zapororizhian Cossack Sich ways for inspiration.  Despite Russia’s final destruction of the Zapororizhian Sich in 1775, the ongoing hunger for independence, freedom, and democracy did not die.  Ukraine declared its independence in 1918 immediately after the fall of the Russian Empire.  The legendary Ukrainian Sich Riflemen fought until 1921.  In 1922 the Soviet Union took over.  Communist Russia’s Stalin committed genocidal abuses of Ukraine.
      1. The Ukrainian War of Independence was a series of conflicts involving many adversaries that lasted from 1917 to 1921 and resulted in the establishment and development of a Ukrainian republic, most of which was later absorbed into the Soviet Union as the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic of 1922–1991. —Wikipedia article on Ukrainian War of Independence
      2. According to the CIA, “Following the collapse of czarist Russia in 1917, Ukraine achieved a short-lived period of independence (1917-20), but was reconquered and endured a brutal Soviet rule that engineered two forced famines (1921-22 and 1932-33) in which over 8 million died. In World War II, German and Soviet armies were responsible for 7 to 8 million more deaths.”

        .
        Ukrainian Sich Riflemen Coat of Arms
        .
        I welcome corrections to this historical summary, with my apologies.  My objective is only to give a sense of the connections from modern Ukrainian culture to the Sich Riflemen and Cossacks, because they are celebrated in the Red Viburnum song and in the National Anthem.

    In the song, the red viburnum is a metaphor
    for the life and spirit of Ukraine.

    I am American-born of largely Slovenian and German descent.  My mother’s mother was born in Slovenia and most of my great-grandparents on my father’s side came to the US from German stock in Alsace-Lorraine and Berlin.  That is not who I am right now.  Learning and feeling what I have from Ukraine lately, in many ways, I could not be more proud than to say that I am Ukrainian today.

    (I get around.  Not long ago I was Australian.  A regular globe trotter.)

    There is love. A civil building in Kyiv got hit by Russian troops, 14 March 2022

    Everlasting arms of men, women and trees.

    Chervona kalyna autumn inspiration.

    Soldier departs.  Her love carries him on, and home, whether dead or alive.
    There is no soldier or volunteer fighter’s death in vain in Ukraine these days.

    Resurgent Strength of Spring. Chervona Kalyna Buds.

    If necessary, it will be an interminable INSURGENT strength of kalyna spirit defending their nation.  If it comes to that, the song and the tree will become ever more important to them.

    Reaching into yourself and reaching out to them in song, you open a tap into the infinite reservoir of love, as they do for us, there on the front lines of the war for human decency, freedom and democracy.

    There is love. Almost 300 volunteers and local utility workers clean up the city of Irpin, devastated by Russian attacks. April 6. From Mayor Oleksandr Markushyn’s Facebook page.

    Imagine how they must feel, tugging at the essence of their being, not as individuals, but as townspeople, in concerted effort to survive destruction and then recover their lives, to carry one another’s burdens through the darkest of human crisis?  What does that feel like?

    It’s easy for me to say that I am “with them,” these Ukrainian kin of heart, but I catch myself being a fool.  I live in a town of 4,000 people.  If we were Ukrainians, we could be — all of us — starving, fleeing, dying or fighting, and, if with their determination and belief in victory at all cost, fighting to the death.

    I live in a county of 40,000.  Same thing.

    Tetiana hugs her neighbor before burying her husband. Russian troops killed him in Bucha.  April 26, 2022.  Photo by Emilio Morenatti.

    Where is love?  Do we have it?  Can we dig some up?

    I live in a state of nineteen million, nearly half the population of Ukraine.  If we were Ukrainians, four million of us would by now, so far, be running for our lives with our children and pets, carrying all we can in a bag, not knowing when we will eat next, or bathe, or sleep, whether running or hiding underground, or we would be fighting, literally wrestling with death.  I’m glad I live so close to Canada.

    Four million is half the population of New York City.  They won’t all fit into subway stations.  Sewers, maybe.

    Ukrainian kids in Kharkiv.  March 1, 2022.  Photo by Kirill Gonchar.

    Art, I suppose, is good for the soul no matter where you are.

    I sit here typing.  With coffee.  I’m so Ukrainian, so in touch with them.  Uh-huh.  I have to dig deeper to reach them where they are.  Dig with me.

    United Nations published map of Ukraine with cities,
    oblasts, roads and waterways. Click to enlarge.

    This Balsamean scribblement is about a precious patriotic folk song in Ukraine, one becoming better known worldwide as countless new renditions are being released since the Russian invasion that began February 24, 2022. Ukrainians turn to the song for sustenance.  It is a nourishment for survival.  In honor of them, please invest in learning about it.

    This writing is also about the people who create the music, sing the song, and raise the spirits of all, by the spirit of Ukraine, which we do well to study.

    It is about a folk tune created long before popularized 100 years ago with lyrics, and now going viral on the Internet.  Sadly, viral because of war.  It is a song about unity in suffering and victory over oppressors.  It is a military march, yet can be sung like a sweet ballad.  It relates the passion of Ukrainian patriotism, and its love of a beautiful tree, the red viburnum, in Ukrainian, chervona kalyna (a.k.a. red guelder rose, Viburnum opulus).

    It’s a nature story: the nature of a plant, a people and a nation.

    Kalyna berries.

    In Ukraine, chervona kalyna represents love, among its many other aesthetic, symbolic, medical and nutritional values. Any surprise in that?

    At her website, PathToWellbeing, Ukrainian-born Oksana Verby wrote an article about the medical value of kalyna, and how to use it.

    She reports that during her childhood in Ukraine, her mother gave her kalyna tea when she was sick.

    Kalyna seeds.  That’s close enough to heart-shaped for me.

    Oksana gives me a broader sense of kalyna in culture.

    She wrote, “Kalyna has special significance in Ukrainian culture, it is the ethnic and national symbol of Ukraine, which represents beauty, love, motherhood, blood, the immortality of family, fire, national resurgence, womanhood, life, love for the homeland etc. This is an encoding mechanism in Ukrainian ethnic culture, the colour of the ‘nation’s soul’, the core of the Kozak spirit (Kalyna was traditionally planted on the graves of fallen Kozaks) and the symbol of national unity.”

    Maybe when I have another few months for pursuing Ukrainophilia, I’ll look into finding examples of all these meanings of kalyna.

    At the train station in Lviv, Mykola says goodbye to his little daughter and wife on the evacuation train to Poland.  April 15, 2022.  Photo by Emilio Morenatti

    Oksana says, “In ordinary viburnum … flowers, berries, and bark have healing properties.”

    Like so many plants’ medicinal uses, the list is long and I’m always skeptical of such broad powers, but Oksana grew up with it and researched it, so I’ll leave it to you whether to follow the exhaustive advice in her article.

    She wrote, “This medicinal raw material has a restorative, antiseptic, astringent, hemostatic, choleretic effect; helps to lower blood pressure, stimulates the heart and strengthens blood vessels. Viburnum juice is used for the prevention of cancer and the treatment of certain types of malignant tumours. Infusions and decoctions of berries are used for coughing, colds and flu, hypertension, atherosclerosis, vasospasms, neurosis, diseases of the liver and gastrointestinal tract.

    “Outwardly applied viburnum juice used in cosmetic (against acne, age spots and wrinkles), as well as infusion – for skin diseases (eczema, furunculosis and others). Kalyna has an antiseptic drying effect. And if you have oily skin you can wipe face with viburnum juice.

    “Viburnum helps get rid of skin flaws – boils, abscesses, eczema.

    Kyiv territorial defense.  February 26, 2022.  Photo by Mikhail Palinchak.

    “… Kalyna has a rich beneficial composition. The berry belongs to diabetic products, it contains tannins, pectins, essential oils, volatile, organic acids, vitamins C, E, K, A, R. Kalyna is rich in acids – valerianic, folic, ascorbic. Moreover, the content of these acids viburnum 2 times superior to raspberries.

    ” … Viburnum also contains minerals – potassium, calcium, manganese, zinc, chromium, copper, phosphorus, iodine, iron, etc. The most valuable component of viburnum is the viburnin glycoside, which gives the berries a bitter taste, which also provides healing properties.

    “Since old times, healers have used viburnum for medicinal purposes, and its beneficial properties well known in folk medicine.”

    Oksana also carefully describes contraindications and risks of medicinal use.

    See her article at the link above! Thanks, Oksana.

    After the Russian occupation of her city, this woman from Makariv was left with only a barn and a cow. Now the cow helps her to earn money.
    Photo April 21 by Artem Halkin.

    What is wrong with this picture of a woman?  Whatever it is, I can’t find it.  She’s beautiful to the bone.  Does her face say anything to you?  The first thing that came to my mind was something like, “Yeah, I’m scared.  But I gotta live.  And by god I will!”  Terrific apron.  I haven’t seen anybody wear one in ages.

    I found multiple reputable sources saying that kalyna is good for bees and butterflies and that birds love the berries.

    There’s the love.

    The Native American Ethnobotany Database listed food uses as: Berries raw (bitter), preserves, fresh and dried fruits used as an acid sauce, rabbit snare bait, fruit mashed, made into small cakes and dried for future use, raw or cooked fruit sun or fire dried and stored for future use, dried fruit cakes soaked in warm water and cooked as a sauce or mixed with corn bread.

    Various sources say that the berries can be toxic if consumed in large quantity, causing stomach unhappiness.

    Kalyna flowers starting out in life.

    Not to get freakishly mystical and metaphysical about it, but sometimes when you sit with a tree for a long time during each of its phases through the year (they change about every week in my woods, more in some seasons than others), exploring it in all weather, you may find it getting personal.  You can start to feel its “soul,” or essence.  Or it feels yours and echoes it back to you.

    That’s how it is with the ancient people who gave us many modern traditions.  They were nature-centered.  That’s the depth of Ukraine’s relationship with kalyna, and with this song that began as a folk tune long before it got its current lyrics in World War I.

    I have a relationship like that with the trees here at Balsamea.  Ukraine’s relationship with kalyna makes sense to me.  But I have no song for Balsamea.

    Ukrainian soldiers performed to say goodbye to their comrade Viktor Bidzilia.
    May 7.  Photo by Serhii Hudak.

    I read somewhere that Ukraine is a “musical country.”  I get it.


    A tree. A song.  A nation.


    In the meadow a red kalyna has bent down low.
    For some reason our glorious Ukraine has been worried so.
    And we’ll take that red kalyna and we will raise it up,
    And we, our glorious Ukraine, shall, hey – hey, cheer up – and rejoice!
    And we’ll take that red kalyna and we will raise it up,
    And we, our glorious Ukraine, shall, hey – hey, cheer up – and rejoice!

    Kids in Chernihiv made chalk drawings on the walls while Russian troops bombed the ‘Ukraine’ hotel. April 27. Photo by Natalia Azarkina.

    (In YouTube, click the little “CC” icon at the bottom of the window.  It will give you English subtitles for this song.  It’s not accurate, but not bad.  Some videos have it, some not.)

    Music video below: Ой, у лузі червона калина (Oh, red viburnum in the meadow). Ukrainian patriotic folk song, by Eileen.  Posted March 5, 2022 (YouTube link https://youtu.be/ZztmQsSAqfo)

    This is the voice, the performance, and the face that my mind goes to first when I think about the song.

    (Chervona Kalyna Lyrics – all videos — click to open a PDF file containing the full lyrics in English and Ukrainian.  You can also download the file.  Artists vary in their choice of verses from the original song.  For instance, some use a verse specifically aimed at Moscow, and some leave out a verse from the original.  One of the artists here only sings the first verse multiple times, for an arranged purpose.  Scroll through the lyrics PDF file to find the version for the video you are watching.  For this one, look for “Eileen.”)



    Singer Eileen writes:

    “Oi u luzi chervona kalyna” (“Oh, in the meadow a red guelder rose”) is a Ukrainian folk song, the anthem of the Legion of Ukrainian Sich Riflemen.

    On the 24th of February, Russia brutally invaded my country, Ukraine. Ukrainian Armed Forces are now bravely fighting for the freedom of our country and each of us.

    All earnings from this video will be donated to humanitarian help for Ukrainians suffering from Russia’s Aggression, and also for the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

    Please help Ukraine fight the Russian invasion! Read and share verified information about Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

    If you want to help Ukraine financially, you can donate here:
    🔹 Largest foundation providing support to the Ukrainian Armed Forces –
    – English: https://www.comebackalive.in.ua/
    *****
    – Ukrainian: https://savelife.in.ua/
    🔹 Fundraising Account for Humanitarian Assistance to Ukrainians Affected by Russia’s Aggression – National Bank of Ukraine – https://bank.gov.ua/en/news/all/natsionalniy-bank-vidkriv-rahunok-dlya-gumanitarnoyi-dopomogi-ukrayintsyam-postrajdalim-vid-rosiyskoyi-agresiyi

    Pro-Ukrainian protest in Russian-occupied Kherson.  Thousands of people took to the streets March 13, 2022.  They WHAT?!?

    ***** From the Come Back Alive site:

    Russia has invaded Ukraine – the Shield of Europe. As we are protecting the World against the tyranny, it’s high time to demonstrate your support of peace and democracy in Ukraine and around the world.

    Why This Matters to You:
    – Ukraine is the Shield of Europe. We are convinced that threat to freedom anywhere means threat to freedom all around the world.
    – We protect the values shared with Europe and rest of the World. We do everything possible to prevent putinist values spreading around the world even beyond our borders. Our Army is strong and determined but it lacks necessary equipment.
    – Our Organization needs your support. We use the funds donated to cover Ukraine’s needs in real time.

    Who We Are:
    – Launched in 2014, Come Back Alive became the biggest organization providing support to the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

    DONATE HERE: https://www.comebackalive.in.ua/donate


    A flower. A song.  A nation.

    Do not bend low, Oh red kalyna, you have a white flower.
    Do not worry, glorious Ukraine, you have a free people.
    And we’ll take that red kalyna and will raise it up,
    And we, our glorious Ukraine, shall, hey – hey, cheer up – and rejoice!
    And we’ll take that red kalyna and will raise it up,
    And we, our glorious Ukraine, shall, hey – hey, cheer up – and rejoice!

    And the fireman said, “Let there be books!”  There, for knowledge, is love.

    I understand that it can be hard to really connect with people in a country so far away.  Maybe you don’t even know where they are!  We don’t know them.  It can be hard to really feel strong love for them.  Yes, well, if you have a head or a heart of any kind at all, you will LOVE THESE GUYS in the song below!

    Big, tough, seasoned active duty soldiers in an active combat zone, making death itself afraid with their courage and heroism, ferociously beating back the biggest, most evil invading army in the world in almost a century, and singing about a tree.

    Or is it a tree?  To them, for over 100 years it has been a symbol of the soul of their nation.  This song means as much or more to them as any nation’s national anthem ever means to any citizen.  Now, during war, even more.

    Music video below: Hey hey, rise up! Performed by active-duty Ukrainian Soldiers. English Subs. Premiered Apr 16, 2022, by Lidi Ya Films (YouTube link https://youtu.be/vZbONSSp2Ig)

    I swear to you, I have seen/listened to all of these performances — all 24 in my playlist and many more — countless times, and I never tire of them.  Combing repeatedly through more than 100, I settled on 24, and have heard them again and again, trying to decide how to present them.  Okay, so call me a Ukrainophile.

    So I have to say, this one in particular is “a trip” in full-screen mode, for the FACES.




    A fruit. A song.  A nation.

    Russian warship: Snake Island, I, Russian warship, repeat the offer: put down your arms and surrender, or you will be bombed. Have you understood me? Do you copy?
    Ukrainian 1 to Ukrainian 2: That’s it, then. Or, do we need to fuck them back off?
    Ukrainian 2 to Ukrainian 1: Might as well.
    Ukrainian 1: Russian warship, go fuck yourself.

    … Originally spoken in Russian, was the last communication made during the February 2022 Russian attack on Snake Island in Ukraine’s territorial waters, by border guard Roman Hrybov to the Russian missile cruiser Moskva. The phrase, and derivatives of the phrase, became widely adopted during the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine in protests and demonstrations around the world.

    Weeks later, the phrase [Russian warship, go fuck yourself] was commemorated on a postage stamp by Ukrposhta, the Ukrainian postal service. On his release, Hrybov was awarded a medal for his actions. During his captivity, his family applied for a defensive trademark on the slogan. On 13 April 2022, one day after the first issue of the commemorative stamp, the Moskva was critically damaged by an explosion caused by Ukrainian anti-ship missiles and sank the following day.   — Wikipedia article on the topic


    The video below contains an audio recording of the dialog.  The music in this one will not be the cup of tea for many, but it is an example of the broad range of genres and styles that the Chervona Kalyna song is made.  It says something about its importance and appeal.

    It is an instrumental piece, except for the radio dialog.  Put your dancing shoes on.  Or let it play while you scroll down for the next bits of fun on the same topic.

    .Music video below: Русский военный корабль, иди нахуй (Russian warship, fuck you) — an interpretation of the Kalyna song, by Bakun (YouTube link https://youtu.be/n6OT79TGqqA)




    Billboard in the besieged Chernihiv with the slogan in Russian.  March 12, 2022.

    Helsinki, Finland protesting Russian invasion of Ukraine.

    The next version of the song leaves me lost in some strange mix of passions I don’t have words for.  Aside from the rush of the group’s singing sweeping over me, the lead singer’s (Elizaveta) facial expressions and body language make the song “another animal” from what you’ve seen so far.  Watch her from beginning to the final seconds of the video.  She looks defiant, and pleased with herself for it.  She seems to have some of that “Russian warship” attitude.  No wonder.  She is a refugee.  Her family is still back home, after their home was destroyed, so what is “back home?”  You’re going to love her.  You are.

    Kalyna red autumn leaves and berries are
    symbolic of blood, love, and more.

    Some of the scenes in her video are from the Winter 2014 Ukrainian Revolution of Dignity, also known as the Maidan Revolution (my-don).  You want to learn to love Ukrainians?  Learn from them.

    Conveniently, I just now realized that I recently posted an account of that revolution, including the 97-minute NetFlix special, free viewing to all, Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom.  It will show you how to win a revolution without a war.  Russia’s genocidal war criminal President Putin insisted on making it a war ever since 2014.

    Horrible mistake for everyone, and possibly to the collapse of Russia as a nation, eventually.  I hope so.  Let there be a revolution in Russia, to never return to this way they have fallen into, to heal themselves, and turn from these ways forever as did Japan and Germany from World War II.  If the people of Japan and Germany can do it, Russians can at least try.  They would probably get a lot of help.  (This is not to say that my country, the United States, does not also have its particular history of genocidal behaviors and other atrocities, including ones that we have yet to really resolve.)

    Ukraine solidarity protest, Berlin Pariser Platz, with lighted Brandenburg Gate, February 24, 2022.  The Russian invasion started early that morning.   That night … to the streets!  There is love, of freedom, of self-rule, of Ukrainians.


    Marching forward, our fellow volunteers, into a bloody fray,
    For to free, our brother-Ukrainians, from hostile chains.
    And we, our brother-Ukrainians, we will then liberate,
    And we, our glorious Ukraine, shall, hey – hey, cheer up – and rejoice!
    And we, our brother-Ukrainians, we will then liberate,
    And we, our glorious Ukraine, shall, hey – hey, cheer up – and rejoice!


    Music video below: Ukrainian refugee sings with Lithuanians in support for Ukraine, Apr 12, 2022, by Neringa Rekasiute. (YouTube link https://youtu.be/LIUoFuSuvTM)

    This one is short (1:43), just the first verse repeated a few times.



    The video producer writes:

    Ukrainian refugee Elizaveta sings together with 300 Lithuanians, who answered her call to gather in Vilnius and sing this viral Ukrainian folk song to draw attention to the ongoing war and struggles of Ukrainian people.

    This is a call to #standupforUkraine.

    Eliza is a 21 year old Ukrainian singer. She had to flee her home country when Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014 and has been living and studying in Lithuania since 2015. When Russia started the war on February 24th, her family’s home was destroyed by Russian occupants for the second time in their life. Eliza’s mother and brother stayed in Ukraine to defend their homeland. Eliza is safe in Lithuania, sending the message for her family and for her country to stay strong.

    Help people like Eliza to rebuild their homes in Ukraine.

    DONATION LINKS:
    https://razomforukraine.org  ****
    https://www.comebackalive.in.ua

    **** Razom for Ukraine:  “Razom means ‘together’ in Ukrainian and serves as a constant reminder of the community that it takes to create, build and do. Razom creates spaces where people meet, partner and work together to unlock the potential of Ukraine. We maintain a relentless focus on the needs on the ground to support Ukraine and on opportunities to amplify voices from Ukraine in conversations in the United States. We operate in Ukraine as Razom Dlia Ukraini (Разом Для України) and we collaborate with organizations and individuals so that we can deliver the highest impact.”

    Visit the Razom website for information about their progress in critical humanitarian war relief and recovery, evacuating vulnerable populations, and advocating for Ukraine by educating about policies that strengthen and support Ukraine and its relationship with the United States.

    Visit the website.  Learn about them.  It’s one of many ways you can give your love to Ukraine, whether you donate or just learn.  The more you learn, the more you’ll love, and the more your love will motivate action, big or small.

    Tell others about it.  That’s a good way to love Ukraine.  Be a viral agent.



    A leaf.  A song.  A nation.

    Oh in the field of early spring wheat, there’s a golden furrow,
    Then began the Ukrainian riflemen to engage the enemy,
    And we’ll take that precious early wheat and will gather it,
    And we, our glorious Ukraine, shall, hey – hey, cheer up – and rejoice!
    And we’ll take that precious early wheat and will gather it,
    And we, our glorious Ukraine, shall, hey – hey, cheer up – and rejoice!

    10-year-old Emma from Uzhhorod plays the flute
    to raise money for the military.
    Her father defends Ukraine on the front line. April 18.  Photo by Serhii Hudak.

    Doesn’t she look just like a girl you’ve known?  She is one.  She’s your daughter.

    “Music will break through anyway.
    Fill the silence with your music!
    Fill it today, to tell our story.”

    Emma fights Russia with music, literally.  What can we do to help her win?

    This next Chervona Kalyna “performance” (of a sort) is sacred in a new way.  If you did not have a heart or a head for Ukraine already, you will in two minutes.  (The CC button does not work right.)

    Music video below: Ой у лузі червона калина Гамбург Ukrainische Mädchen singen ein ukrainisches Lied in Hamburg, by AM Films Studio, April 10, 2022 (YouTube link https://youtu.be/DWz26iBTVLA)



    There’s a woman in there who actually looks almost exactly like one of my nieces.

    The video maker writes:

    After the rally in support of Ukraine in Hamburg, Germany, people sang, cried and hugged.

    Rally in support of Ukraine in Hamburg. Against cruelty in Bucha, the execution of civilians at the railway station in Kramatorsk. Ukrainians in Germany wanted to show how terrible, illogical and unfair it is when they kill innocent people who just lived in their own country. And they were killed for it.: https://youtu.be/xsfntq4HQhY



    A food.  A song.  A nation.

    When the stormy winds blow forth from the wide steppes,
    They will glorify, throughout Ukraine, the Sich riflemen.
    And we’ll take the glory of the riflemen preserving it,
    And we, our glorious Ukraine, shall, hey – hey, cheer up – and rejoice!
    And we’ll take the glory of the riflemen preserving it,
    And we, our glorious Ukraine, shall, hey – hey, cheer up – and rejoice!
    Thousands of Energodar residents defending the largest nuclear power plant in Europe – Zaporizhzhia NPP.  March 2, 2022.  You mean, like, all the people just went out there to stand their ground against war machines?  What the hell?  Where’s the love?  In each one, of course, but more so: in their unity.

    And I bet they did a lot of singing.

    Popular artist Marlaine Maas made a special version of Chervona Kalyna that she called a Europe Remix.  It contains one verse each in German, English and French.

    You’ll see in the first ten notes why Marlaine is popular, and then see what a gift she gave this song’s new life.

    Marlaine posted this to YouTube on March 29, 2022.  See?  New versions are flying out of the creative spirits of people all over the world.  You don’t have to know a word of Ukrainian to sing the song.  You know its meaning.

    Having come to love the song and Ukraine, the English part of Marlaine’s piece sliced through me.  I so wish she would do it completely in English.  Talk about going viral.  It would top the charts throughout the English speaking world.

    Music video below: Oy U Luzi Chervona Kalyna – Europe Remix, by Marlaine Maas, March 29, 2022 (YouTube link https://youtu.be/Wv5qYSt_BL4)



    Marlaine writes:

    I was deeply touched by this song and it definitely raised my spirit. Then suddenly I had this idea of making a European version of it, so that many people all over the world would understand the soul of this song and get their spirits lifted,too. All royaties from this song will be used to support Ukraine of course!

    Thank you so much for Andriy Khlyvnyuk & The Kiffness – for your creation of this Ukrainian Folk Song (https://youtu.be/lu8m5FA2nL8). You made me cry for hours and were the origin and Inspiration to my rendition. God bless you ❤️



    Kalyna berries are persistent.  After a frost, they shrivel like raisins, and may stay on the bush well into winter.

    Maybe it’s not the marvelous Marlaine, but there is ONE fully English version, by The Kiffness.  Fortunately, they put the English lyrics on the YouTube page in the text section, so that you can follow the text as you listen.

    Ukrainian National Guardsman with paska — traditional Easter cake. April 2022. Photo by Vova Neizvestnyi.  Receiving something like this from home, or from someone in the local village where you are fighting, can be a profound blessing, especially for some soldiers.  It is love.

    It is suprising that there are not more fully English versions.  For now, many thanks for taking the initiative and creative effort to make this one!  Let’s get down, get viral!

    Music video below: Red Viburnum First full English version Of Ukraine song Full English lyrics, by The Kiffness, April 24, 2022 (YouTube link https://youtu.be/Ho6NFgn2j8Y)



    The artists write:

    Apologies if we mullered the lyrics a bit but this is the first version, all comments appreciated on improving them, yes it is not a literal translation of the 1914 riflemen but a modern similar version 🙂
    Lots more improvements to come.

    Inspiration from:
    https://youtu.be/qP-7GNoDJ5c  Nathan Evans. #Wellerman #SeaShanty
    https://youtu.be/lu8m5FA2nL8  Andriy Khlyvnyuk x The Kiffness
    https://youtu.be/ZztmQsSAqfo  Eileen
    https://youtu.be/Wv5qYSt_BL4  Marlaine Maas
    https://youtu.be/LIUoFuSuvTM  Elizaveta Izmalkova

    1914 Ukrainian Sich Riflemens song from WW1:
    https://youtu.be/6NClrXLsKLw

    I’m glad to see that I got my inspiration from the same artists!



    People all over Ukraine are rapidly creating new versions of the song, in every genre, including Pink Floyd, in their first new song in 28 years!  I have explored far more than 100 of them.  It was difficult, but I managed to boil it down to just 24 to share with you.  You can find them in my YouTube playlist “Kalyna.”  If you watch all of them, you may come out of it Ukrainian, and unable to resist loving your compatriots, even fighting for them, in ways befitting you.

    Ukrainian rescuers saved an owl from a fire caused by Russian shelling, March 2022.  Nature.  Love.  The nature of love.  The love of nature.

    A nation’s song, and a song of the people.  Live long their song.  Let no one take it from them, as Putin would definitely do. He would ban it, and severely punish those who sing it. This is not speculation. Russia has done it to Ukraine before, and Putin has made his methods clear.

    During the Soviet era, Russia even banned the playing of the famed Ukrainian musical instrument, the bandura.  You’ll see it played by a soldier in the next chernova kalyna video.  I plan to devote a post to the bandura soon, with some amazing music.  For now, I’ll share one of my favorites, where the Ukrainian B&B Project (bandura and button accordion) plays a hot, modern interpretation of a piece from Antonio Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.  Modern, yet true to the classical.

    This is to celebrate the most famous of more than 60 musical instruments brought into the world by Ukraine.  It is a nation of music.  The bandura is Ukraine’s official national instrument.  This video also shows you a few amazing parts of Ukraine’s incredible natural resources.

    Welcome to more to love about Ukraine.




    Where is the love?  In the courage of these journalists in the city of Irpin.  March 2022.  Photo by Serhii Myhalchuk.

    “That ye may know the truth.”

    My point is that if we let Russia win, if we do not save Ukraine, Putin will erase their culture.  Russia has done it before, at least three times, if you count Catherine the Great, Stalin, and the enduring Soviet cultural oppression.  Is it any wonder that Ukraine instantly declared independence when the Russian Empire fell?  Is it any wonder that they did the same even before the USSR fell.  In fact, Ukraine’s independence brought down the USSR, because it could not survive without her.  Ukraine declared her independence in August 1991.  I’ll spare you the particulars of that history lesson, but it’s a fact: when the world formally recognized Ukraine’s independent state and its anti-communist democratic government in early December 1991, the USSR simply could not survive, and collapsed a few weeks later.

    What manner of love might it take to help Ukraine be the bastion of hope for democracy in Europe; in the world?  Yours.

    Long live the song. Help make it go not just viral on the web, but saturate the web with it. Please share it.  Pick one or more versions that you like, and share the YouTube link(s) provided.  Or, share the link to my YouTube Kalyna Playlist.

    Leo Soto of Miami arrived in Ukraine and organized a “Wall of Memory” action in Lviv. He printed photos of deceased people and decorated the memorial with artificial flowers. April 27.  Photo by Mykyta Pechenyk.

    The playlist has something for everybody.

    Seriously, if you were Ukraine, wouldn’t you be grateful for people sharing your song?  Such an important song at this crucial moment in your history?

    I know President Zelenskyy is grateful, because you’d be doing what he asked us to do.  Put a smile on his hardened face.

    Fall in love with Ukraine. May the power of your love overcome the evil she endures in horrors as I write, as you read, as we sleep on a warm bed, as we drink good water and eat fresh food, as we bathe in hot showers with abundant water and soap, as we choose which color of clean underwear for the day, as we start the coffee maker with unlimited electricity, as we put on put on clean clothes and step out into the sun, from under a roof over strong walls with locked doors, without being shot, bombed, kidnapped, stripped, beaten, tortured or raped. It’s pretty nice. We have it all.

    Think about it.  All of those bad things are happening to Ukrainians, every day.

    We have it all.

    We have nothing, if we have not love for Ukrainians.

    Kharkiv subway stations are refuges for many citizens whose homes were destroyed or who are living in heavily shelled areas.  March 22, 2022.  Photo by Wojciech Grzedzinski.

    Examine this image.  Yes, it’s a heart-string puller.  But it’s also an example of what families endure when they belong to a civilization that will not surrender in the face of uncivilized aggressors.  They could surrender and go home.  Accept occupation.  Be assimilated.  They won’t.  They can’t.  So everybody adapts, even if they bleed on the chair.

    They need our love, as much as we can give them, these victims of the most horrendous of humanity’s evils, on a scale that leaves the word epic impotent.

    The inhumanity is reverberating in shock waves through the lives of us all, even the life of the planet, as the war complicates climate change by inestimable degrees in several ways.

    This war is killing us. What have we without love for those on the battleground for humanity?

    Music video below: from the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, “Ой у лузі червона калина” (Oh, Red Viburnum in the Meadow), unknown date.  (YouTube link https://youtu.be/N7pAXDwqj3Q)

    I LOVE the portions sung by groups in traditional Ukrainian clothing.  Throughout my exploration of Ukraine’s music, the traditional dress always struck me as more than beautiful.  I can’t explain it.  It carries their soul out into the air, kicked into flight by their song.

    … introduced by a soldier on the bandura, followed by uplifting expansion to other instruments and various choirs in traditional Ukrainian attire … all to a snappy beat …



    The Department of Public Relations of the Armed Forces of Ukraine writes:

    The song of the Sich shooters “Oh, the red viburnum in the meadow” is confidently heard over the world. In Vinnytsia, both military and civilian groups joined the All-Ukrainian flash mob to perform this song. The masterful performance of the song, which became a world hit, was filmed by local volunteers, who created a powerful music video to support the defenders of Ukraine and give confidence to the civilian population.

    The shooting lasted for three days, in different locations of our beautiful city. We chose outstanding and picturesque places that are the pride of Vinnytsia, because they are connected with certain historical events known to the people of Vinnytsia. The training of choirs and instrumental groups took a whole week. We wanted the song to sound like a powerful anthem of glory for all defenders of Ukraine, from ancient times to the present day, “said one of the organizers of the flash mob, head of the Center for Military Music Art of the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Lt. Col. Mykhailo Hryvas.

    The song was performed by:
    – vocal and orchestral group of the Center for Military and Musical Arts of the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine under the direction of Lieutenant Colonel Mykhailo Hryvas;
    – Choir of Vinnytsia Regional Philharmonic named after MD Leontovych under the leadership of Honored Worker of Culture of Ukraine Anatoliy Levitsky;
    – Folk amateur choir of the Lipovets City House of Culture under the direction of Galina Navrotska;
    – Academic Song and Dance Ensemble “Podillya” under the direction of Honored Artist of Ukraine Anatoliy Kondyuk.

    Chief Choirmaster: Honored Artist of Ukraine Viktor Volkov.
    Video: Andriy Kravchenko, Oleg Smakovsky

    The video was filmed under the auspices of the “Time Chose Us” campaign under the auspices of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Air Force Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, with the assistance of Lipovets Territorial Command Viktor Bychkov. of Culture of Ukraine Terletsky Gennady Alexandrovich.
    fragments of the musical accompaniment of the band “Haidamaki” were used in the creation of the video.

    I know credits can be boring, but they deserve the space here in my filling of the silence.

    They get a lot out of a simple folk song, don’t they?  Obviously, it’s not simply a song.

    Your love can help ensure they can keep singing it.  Putin will outlaw it.  Imagine being sent to jail for singing, America the Beautiful?  Imagine if the song track below was banned from the Internet in the United States?  Don’t kid yourself saying it can’t happen.  We elected an insane person for president, and his party in Congress wants him back.  That’s all they want.  It can’t happen?  If we fail Ukraine, we fail ourselves, and vice-versa.  It is one world we live in with Ukraine, containing Putin and Trump at the same time.  Trump is the lunatic who actually suggested to the Secretary of Defense that we fire missiles into Mexico.



    By your love, keep Ukraine free to sing her songs as we are free to sing ours.

    There are boundless veins of love-ore in the myriad mines of our being. Dig deep for Ukraine.

    It will take all of us to save the world. Funny, I think I preached the same thing at the beginning of the COVID pandemic. Same program; keep digging.  Together.  Unity is crucial.

    It’s not just about saving the world from destruction and evil. It’s about loving it, nurturing it, making it better. We can’t just go back to the way it was before the war. That’s how we got the war.

    This work of love is not merely a sentimental notion. Your grasping love for the sake of Ukraine empowers you to be the best you can be for her when the right opportunity comes. That grasp prepares you, conditions you, to notice and to act on opportunity as it arises. That opportunity may be to just say a good word, spread the love. Share a link. Answer a question. Enlighten somebody.

    Share a song.

    Maybe sing or whistle a Ukrainian folk song based on a flower representing their soul, or sing a song for them, to them, one that supercharges your love for them.

    “Music will break through anyway … Fill the silence with your music! Fill it today, to tell our story.”  These are fine words for anyone, immortal words for the president of a country being blown up.

    Tell their story.  That’s a loving thing you can do for Ukraine.

    Above: A couple in the destroyed city of Mariupol. April 2022.
    Photo by Mariupol city council.

    Or get rowdy. March. Rally. Recruit. Stand on your roof and sing with a flag. Who knows what ears hear?

    You might send loving money to the cause, digging deep for more to send, as if it were to save the world.  It is.

    It is our tiny world, the world of 44 million Ukrainians, and the world of a blown up kindergarten building and a maternity hospital, and the world of a pregnant girl raped by multiple soldiers, and the world of a great-great-grandma who surived the Holodomor, and will finish her days in another one.

    Hi, Mom.  This is all we’ve got today.

    I won’t show them here, the pictures from Bucha, of bodies in the streets, of bodies half buried in mass graves, scattered limbs and faces sticking out from the sand in giant holes in the earth, things you thought only happened in the Holocaust, but are here right now, in color.

    I do, however, want to piont out that some grandmas saw it twice, saw it in the flesh, on the ground, and smelled it, too.  Some, three times in their lives, Holodomor, Holocaust and Putin.

    “I say, dammit, THERE WILL BE EASTER, EVEN HERE!”

    We, however, have it all.  We can just turn our eyes from the pictures.  Whew.  Good thing, because after looking at certain ones I was very close to vomiting.  Too close.  I had to take action to prevent it.

    The Holodomor (Ukrainian: “to kill by starvation”), also known as the Terror-Famine or the Great Famine, was a famine in Soviet Ukraine from 1932 to 1933 that killed millions of Ukrainians. The Holodomor famine was part of the wider Soviet famine of 1932–1933 which affected the major grain-producing areas of the country. … Since 2006, the Holodomor has been recognized by Ukraine alongside 15 other countries, as a genocide against the Ukrainian people carried out by the Soviet regime [i.e., Stalin].  — Wikipedia article on Holodomor

    Sorry, to make a point, just one image from the Holodomor that is like a trip back to their future in Bucha:

    It is happening TODAY, killing not only by starvation, but by bullets, bombs, missiles, and rape-murders.

    Elsewhere in Ukraine, an age-ravaged woman, survivor of the Holodomor and of the Holocaust, cried outside of her destroyed house, head in one hand, cane in the other, “I never thought I would see this again.”  I won’t show you the picture.  I see my 90-year-old mother in it.  No point doing that to you.  Don’t want that on my website, in my Balsamea.  Whew.  Dodged a bullet in the silence there.

    A woman shows how she wrapped a blanket around her dog.  It was very frightened while Russian troops were shelling in Bucha district.
    April 2022.  Photo by Oleh Pereverzev.
    Hey, isn’t that the Ukraine flag color on that fence?

    I figure she was trying to protect the dog from the noise.  Of course, you know the dog felt the bomb concussions in its whole body even more than she did.

    Her blanket was not of fabric, but of love.  We can help her help her dog.

    Remember the American song written by George M. Cohan in World War I, “Over There?” It declared, “The yanks are coming,” to help Europe.  Many say we saved Europe.

    That was a different world.  Today, there is relatively little separating us from “over there.”  Ukraine is a cause that is not “over there,” but right where you sit, right now, for we are all Ukraine today, sitting here comfortably (or in tears, perhaps) thinking about the atrocities befalling them, seeing that their part in saving the world is played in human-made hell.

    “The cause” is to love them.

    Join people all over the world learning this song about a viburnum symbolic of Ukraine, as an investment in learning to love Ukraine. Then let your love do its thing, the way it works best in you.  Here’s a sampling of people singing it together around the world:




    Your love is a sail raised to wait for the wind to turn it into power to do something, whether a little thing or more. You don’t know what wind there may be, where it may let you go, what it may empower you to do. Raise your little sail and sing.

    You don’t know the downstream effects of little acts of love. You never know the good you may have done in the long run. There is no sail too small in this work. Many little sails can drive big changes. That’s usually how the big changes end up coming, anyway. Your little bit matters.

    Kalyna berries are persistent.  After a frost, they shrivel like raisins,
    and can remain on the bush into winter.

    Nature is a good place to start anything. Begin with the company of a tree. In this case, red viburnum (Viburnum opulus). This scribblement is about one of the most important songs in the history of Ukraine. Is it any wonder that such an enduring and important thing would begin with a tree?  Are we of nature or not?

    Despite the war, people in Kyiv clean up city parks and lakes on the weekend cleanup day.  April 16, 2022.  Photo by Municipal Enterprise “Pleso.”
    I told you they revered nature.

    Kalyna is a deciduous shrub native to Europe, northern Africa and central Asia, growing up to 16 ft. tall. It is also known as water elder, European cranberry bush, cramp bark (because the bark is medicine for cramps) and snowball tree. Its American variant is Viburnum trilobum, or highbush cranberry, growing across southeastern Canada, northeastern United States, and throughout the Great Lakes states. They are not related to cranberries.

    Kalyna is a beautiful plant, symbolically imbued with the glory and soul of a nation. It is not the national flower of Ukraine. That flower is the sunflower, a major crop of Ukraine. The kalyna tree is the official national plant of Ukraine.

    The tree and its foliage, flowers and fruit are patriotic symbols. It inspired a song expressing military pride and heroism, as well as rejoicing in resurgence over pain and suffering, celebrating recovery from dark times to new light, standing together in faith of what can be done, and sharing love for culture, armed forces, national identity and homeland. The song does not say all these things, but the cultural relationship with kalyna gives the song messages written between the bars of music.

    Then, there are the singers and musicians.  Look closely.  See and feel their passion.  The song is hymn, anthem, march.  It is celebration.

    She used to sweep leaves.  Now she does Russian rocket remnant disposals.  Russian rockets have a high failure rate.  Everybody wants to do SOMETHNG for the cause, and will take on harder work than you’d expect.

    The song is a call to unity, the thing that Putin cannot kill.  Unity is the key to winning the war; their unity and our unity with them.

    Mentions of the viburnum can be found throughout Ukrainian folklore such as songs, decorative art, Ukrainian embroidery, and poetry.  Its symbolic roots can be traced to the Slavic paganism of millennia ago. According to a legend, kalyna was associated with the birth of the Universe, the so-called Fire Trinity: the Sun, the Moon, and the Star.  Its berries symbolize one’s home and native land, blood, and family roots.  Kalyna is often depicted on Ukrainian embroidery: ritual cloths and shirts. In Slavic paganism kalyna also represents the beauty of a young lady, which rhymes well in the Ukrainian language: ka-ly-na – div-chy-na. The song Chervona Kalyna was the anthem of the Ukrainian Sich Riflemen and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army; along with these national liberating movements in 20th century guelder rose was established as a symbol of riflemen honor, and state independence.  —Wikipedia article on Viburnum opulus

    It sounds rather … um … Ukrainian, doesn’t it?

    In the song, kalyna is synonymous with Ukraine.

    Sadly, kalyna is also a revered national symbol in Russia, with some differences in the meanings. These two ancient peoples, Ukraine and Russia, share so much of the good and beautiful things of their neighboring, intertwined cultures and natural resources. The war is a war against that goodness and beauty. The war is the attempted murder of culture.

    Catherine tried it. Stalin tried it. They not only did their best to murder and starve Ukrainians out of existence, but they imported Russians to take their places, especially in positions of power and acedemia.  They have been trying to russify Ukraine for centuries.  Ukraine is too fantastic a jewel of natural and cultural resources for profiteeering dictators to resist.

    By such offensive russification means, and by the more natural ones like family integration across borders, Russia and Ukraine are integral, like the United States and Canada. Can you imagine Spain deciding one day to slaughter all the Portuguese and call it “Little Spain?” Catherine the Great called Ukraine “Little Russia.”

    Ukraine is not Little Russia, and never has been. By the nature of Ukrainians, that would be impossible. They are kin with Russia, brethren, but sovereign. Russia is killing itself by trying to kill Ukraine.  Russia desperately needs Ukraine, as did the USSR, which never could have lived so long without Ukraine, but a dead Ukraine is no good to anybody, nor is a Ukraine made into a Little Russia.

    Viburnum opulus (kalina) is also one of the national symbols of Russia.  In Russia the Viburnum fruit is called kalina (калина) and is considered a national symbol. Kalina derived in Russian language from kalit’ or raskalyat’, which means “to make red-hot”. The red fiery color of the berries represents beauty in Russian culture and together with sweet raspberries it symbolises the passionate love of a beautiful maiden, since berries were always an erotic symbol in Russia. The bitter side of the red fruit also symbolizes love separation in Russian folk culture. The name of the Russian song Kalinka is a diminutive of Kalina. Viburnum opulus is also an important symbol of the Russian national ornamental wood painting handicraft style called Khokhloma. —Wikipedia article on Viburnum opulus

    May the spirit of kalyna heal these nations and make them family to each other more beloved than before. In the heart of Ukraine, one may see the ability to make this happen. They have done it before. However, it will be a long time before they can overcome this unspeakable genocide executed by Vladimir Putin, leading a nation that he duped and deceived into hating Ukraine.  Big ships take a long time and a lot of space to turn around.

    America, do not fail Ukraine.

    Ukrainian defenders are heading east, where fighting against Russia continues, March 2022. Photo by Daniel Carde.

    The Mykolaiv zoo suffered Russian attacks several times. Some workers stayed in the city to take care of the animals.  March 2022.  Photo by Laurence Geai.

    Imagine the horror for an animal that can’t understand what is going on?  These workers stand in the gap.  Speaking of gaps …

    Civilians escaping the city of Irpin, northwest of Kyiv, during heavy shelling and bombing.  March 5, 2022.  Photo by Aris Messinis.

    People training for Kyiv territorial defense shortly before the Russian invasion.   February 2022.  Photo by Sasha Maslov.

    A woman near the town of Irpin saving disabled dogs from becoming victims of Russian weapons..  March 10, 2022.  Photo by Christopher Occhicone.

    Does she look Ukrainian, or what?  Human.  Woman.  Dog lover.  Courageous.  Inspired.  Defiant.  Compassionate.  “Russian ship, go fuck yourself.”  The list goes on.  Ukrainian.

    Let the song speak further for itself in the remainder of the 24 versions in my YouTube Kalyna Playlist.  There are some interesting ones in there.

    An interesting feature of the next video is the phonetic subtitles (if you use the CC feature).  In other words, here you are, finally, a sing-along version!  Have fun.

    This crowd just keeps repeating the first verse.  A nice chant-fest.  Unfortunately they only display the phonetic lyrics for the first round.  Still, if you use the attached Chervona Kalyna Lyrics – all videos file, it’s not hard to follow along using the transliterated/romanized text.  If you are trying to learn it, slow down the playing speed under the settings gear in the YouTube video.



    Utility workers and volunteers clean up Chernihiv, one of the cities most harmed by Russian attacks.  April 2022.  Photo by Stas Yurchenko.


    Help them.


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

    Слава в калині.  Slava v kalyni.  Glory to the kalyna.


  • Щедрик – Shchedryk, On the Generosity of Spring, with Music (5/22/2022)

    Updated May 30, 2022

    Rarely do I wake from a dream realizing that in the dream I knew I was dreaming.

    I recently dreamed that I was lost in the woods, exhausted, when I found a cave just before dark.  I reclined on a sloped rock with my head on my fanny pack and fell asleep.  That’s when I dreamed that I knew I was dreaming, making it hard to separate reality from the dream.  Even when I woke up I didn’t know if I was only dreaming that I did.


    When I woke up, the black overcast sky offered no moonlight, no starlight.  It was so dark that I could not see.  I seemed actually blind, and it scared me for a moment.

    I was distracted from the blindness by something I heard.  At a distance, there was music.  Chanting, drums, flutes, bells.  I was at least three miles from the nearest house, and there were no trails so high on this mountain.  Who would be having a party up here?

    Or am I still dreaming?  Oh, that’s it.  I’m still dreaming, and now I know that I am.  It seems so real, and yet surreal, too.  I went with the flow of the dream, letting it take me where it would.

    I dug the headlamp out of my fanny pack and turned it on.  Pointing it at the mouth of the cave, I saw outside, dimly, the faint image of a person standing in the trees about thirty feet away.  I leaped to my feet and said, “Hello?”

    It was an old woman, smiling.  She silently turned and almost disappeared into the dark when I decided to follow.  The music grew louder as she led me through a narrow pass through dense forest, over rock flats along the ridge above the cave.

    I’ve been spending a tremendous amount of time immersing myself in Ukraine’s history and culture, with an emphasis on music.  It occurred to me in the dream about dreaming that this was what I was dreaming about, Ukrainian music, from centuries past.

    Soon, in a hollow below us, I saw the light of a bonfire flickering through the trees, with the pulsating drums and chanting now much louder.  It was a fantastic party, celebrating the arrival of spring, which was the traditional New Year of Pagan, pre-Christian times in Ukraine.  The music was familiar, more a chant, but there were unusual stringed instruments and flutes (among 60 or more instruments invented by Ukraine, for real, not dreaming), and several drums.

    When I hear music I fear no danger, I am invulnerable, I see no foe.
    I am related to the earliest times and to the latest.
    — Henry David Thoreau,
    Journal, 13 January 1857

    The woman bowed slightly and extended an arm, welcoming me into the camp.  I felt like I naturally belonged there, like coming home.

    She said in a smile, “You are just in time for the big fire circle dance, Cave Man.”

    It was mesmerizing.  The music rattled me and thrilled me.  Dancers scattered around the clearing in pairs and threes and fours, wearing fabulous, brilliantly colored outfits, doing dizzying things.

    Then came the big dance.  They danced in a circular path around the fire, doing steps that I could never master (I’ve been told I have no rhythm), and athletic choreography, like ballet.  It could be done only in a dream, I thought.  Ukrainians may differ.

    Many of their steps were connected hand-in-hand, or arm-in-arm, in an unbroken chain while dancing in a circle around the fire..  Toward the end, some of them did fantastic backward flying kicks, both feet sailing high, without breaking the chain!  How could they hold on to each other doing such a vigorous dance and circling the fire at the same time?  And they were singing!

    The dance, the drums, the bells, the singing and the air filled with night potions released by the trees, and bright, hot fire, all combined to drive them into a finely controlled rapture.  I say finely because of the expert dancing, exquisite singing, and masterful music.

    To them, it was more than a party.  It was a religious ritual, a form of prayer.  It summoned magic to bring a good harvest, with peace and happiness among the people.

    From the Wikipedia article on Dance in Ukraine:

    Judging by the figures depicted in motion on Trypillian clay vessels, dance has been performed in the lands of present-day Ukraine since at least the third millennium BC. It has been assumed that up to the introduction of Christianity in Kyivan Rus in 988, dance served a very important ritual function in the lands of present-day Ukraine. Pre-Christian rituals combined dance with music, poetry, and song. A remnant of these ritual dances (Ukrainian: Oбpядовi танці, translit. Obryadovi tantsi; see also Khorovody[a combination of a circle dance and chorus singing]) which survive in limited form today are the Spring Dances, or Vesnianky, also referred to as Hahilky, Hayilky, Hayivky, Yahilky, or Rohulky. Another seasonal event featuring dances was the yearly pre-harvest festival of Kupalo, which to this day remains a favorite theme for Ukrainian choreographers.

    These religious ritual dances proved to be so strongly ingrained into the culture of the people prior to the introduction of Christianity, that rather than attempting to eliminate them, Christian missionaries incorporated Christian themes into the songs and poetry which accompanied the dancing, using the dances to spread their religion, as well as enabling millennia-old steps and choreographic forms to continue to be passed down from generation to generation.    –Wikipedia article on Dance in Ukraine


    You never know what you’re going to learn in this blog, do you?  Now back to the dance on the mountain.

    It was the last night of the full, free, traditional worship of the old Slavic gods, as Christianity reshaped or removed spiritual traditions.  As I witnessed the questionable reformation, I vowed to keep the old music playing for life, the joyous voices singing, the sacred drums beating to the wings of the swallow.

    Within this dream about a dream, I watched myself wonder what would happen when I woke up.  Would I remember my vow?  I did not want to wake up.

    I said to the old woman, “Don’t wake me up.”

    She said, “You are more awake now than ever, Cave Man, like spring rising out of winter.  You see the nature of things differently now.  Celebrate it with us.  Here.  Ring this bell and sing.”

    I refrained from quoting Huxley to her.  He wasn’t born until centuries later.

    All that we are and will and do depends, in the last analysis,
    upon what we believe the Nature of Things to be.
    –Aldous Huxley,
    The Perennial Philosophy, p. 44, 1944

    Suddenly I had uncanny rhythm in my bones, but only for a minute.  Ringing the bell stirred me out of the dream.



    When I woke up at the campsite here at Balsamea, wishing it were not a dream, I tried to remember the tune that they played.  I felt it.  I knew it.  I could not get it back.  Dreams escape too quickly.  I tried to sleep again, hoping to return to their camp, their music.  I could not sleep.  I was frustrated.  Annoyed.  I lit a fire.  While feeding sticks into it, I felt better.  (As I say, when in doubt, have a campfire.)  I thought about the dream, laughing at myself, glad that I had the dream, feeling silly, and feeling good about feeling silly.  Campfire therapy.  Still, the music haunted me.  What was it?

    Back at the house, I combed through my collections.  It took a while, then …  Bingo!

    It was Shchedryk (Щедрик), the ancient Ukrainian Spring New Year Celebration Song.  Shchedryk means “generous” or “bountiful.”  It was one of the chants they sang in celebration of spring, which was their New Year.  It was (still is) a song about a swallow who visited a home to tell of good things to come.

    Likely only one reader of my blog would know the song.

    Here are the lyrics:

    Shchedryk, shchedryk, shchedrivochka
    Here flew the swallow from afar
    Started to sing lively and loud
    Asking the master to come out
    Come here, oh come, master – it’s time
    In the sheepfold wonders to find
    Your lovely sheep have given birth
    To little lams of great worth
    All of your wares are very fine
    Coin you will have in a big pile
    You have a wife
    Fair as a dove
    If not the coin, then the chaff
    You have a wife fair as a dove

    ♫ Lyrics in Ukrainian / Текст українською:
    Щедрик, щедрик, щедрівочка
    Прилетіла ластівочка
    Стала собі щебетати
    Господаря викликати
    Вийди, вийди, господарю
    Подивися на кошару
    Там овечки покотились
    А ягнички народились
    В тебе товар весь хороший
    Будеш мати мірку грошей
    В тебе жінка
    Чорноброва
    Хоч не гроші, то полова
    В тебе жінка чорноброва
    Щедрик, щедрик, щедрівочка
    Прилетіла ластівочка

    In 1916, Mykola Leontovych, a Ukrainian (of course) composed a modern version of Schedryk.  This composition came to light during the period when the Russian Empire fell and the world was at war, and Ukraine claimed its independence, at great cost in war.   When the smoke cleared, Leontovych was executed by the Soviets for his independence activism.

    Here is a synthesized instrumental performance of the modern music.



    That’s right.  I said you don’t know the song.  You recognize the tune, but not the original song.

    Built on only four notes, this is one of the most beautiful songs the world has ever known, but do we know it?  Non-Ukrainian people know it by its Christian lyrics, not as a spring New Year celebration.  For people all around the world, it is a Christmas hymn, Carol of the Bells.

    Listen and learn, from Eileen, the enchanting Ukrainian singer (and professional interpreter) who is on a mission to create English versions of Ukraine’s famous folk songs.


    Her traditional outfit is fabulous.  Seriously, I love their traditional attire, for men and women.

    It is such a gift to us that she sings it in both languages.


    (YouTube link: https://youtu.be/GqeJ38DThVc)


    Explore Eileen’s enchanting music
    at her YouTube channel

    I make no excuses and hold no reservation about proclaiming Ukraine’s blessings.   The only shame would be in my failure to share them.

    It is what I have chosen to do in response to the war: open paths for Ukraine to lift herself up in your heart, by her strength and beauty, to encourage your unity with her, and compassion toward her, and effort for her.

    So, today I share Shchedryk.  The song and its story embody portions of the soul of modern Ukraine.  Though most of the world does not know the original meaning and story of its Ukrainian origin, the song has inspired spiritual uplifting of hearts, minds, music and voices around the world, heard every year nearly everywhere.

    The Christmas version of the song has been one of the most popular holiday songs, destined to remain so forever.  However, the pre-Christian one, the original, must never be forgotten.  It tells a different story than the Christmas song.  It comes from the spirit that binds Ukraine’s historic roots to its modern culture, a bond that wars have failed again and again to conquer.

    Whatever power rules the land, Ukraine is Ukraine, and will regain her independence, again and again.

    At least three times in Ukraine’s history since the 17th Century, Russia has tried to wipe out Ukraine as a nation and a culture.  Now we see the worst one of all: Putin’s declaration that Ukraine is not a country and his “special military operation” to destroy and kill all he can within her borders.

    He says she is not a country.  In truth, he is trying to destroy her because she is such a great country.  He has not, will not, and cannot kill her.

    This leaves us the question, “How much must she suffer?”

    Celebrate the indomitable spirit of Ukraine in her song of celebration of the bounty and generosity of the eternal New Year spring season, continually granting her the soul to create boundless beauty, and to not merely survive hell, but rise from it renewed, and now, in greater renown than ever.

    Ukraine is uniting the world, inspiring it, and, I’m sorry to say, preparing it to face terrible crises to come.  As the planet’s usable natural resources continue to retreat from humanity, what will humanity do about it?  Hug and sing kumbaya?

    Music will have its place, and Ukraine is music.

    Learn about the endless ways that people all over the world have celebrated with this song, and always will.  Make it a celebration song for yourself, your family, your community — seriously, share it in your churches and clubs — with a new understanding of its role in culture.

    Those repeating four notes?  Think of the flight of a swallow.  Recall that this was originally a pagan ritual chant, rooted in connectedness with Nature.  It is a “bird song.”  You can feel the bird swishing and swooping, tumbling and diving, sweeping and darting its way through the music.  We mimic bird celebrations of spring.

    It is said that the chant has magical powers.  Get the hint that it’s more than just a folk song?  To Ukraine, it means more than the words, more than the music, more than the dance.  It is part of the magic of Ukraine and her people.

    While the beauty of the song is incomparable, its story is just as important.  Here is the history of the song, in brief.  (Only 2.5 minutes and it saves me so much writing that would put you to sleep!  Again!):


    (YouTube link https://youtu.be/LFhUWApeNJA)


    That’s right. Leontovych, who was an activist for Ukrainian independence, was murdered by a Soviet agent in 1921, a year before his composition was made world famous before a sold-out audience at Carnegie Hall, New York City.

    The Carnegie hit was NOT the Christmas song published in 1936 by Peter Wilhousky to the music of Leontovych.  It was the folk song, Shchedryk.  It was Ukraine in New York.  Imagine how the Ukrainian National Choir must have felt to be an astounding hit at Carnegie?  Imagine how Ukraine felt?  The choir carried Ukraine to Carnegie and into the ears of the world forever.

    In December 2019, Lydia Tomkiw wrote an exhaustive, enlightening history of the song and relevant portions of Ukraine’s national and cultural history in her article in Slate, Toll of the Bells; The forgotten history of nationalism, oppression, and murder behind a Christmas classic.

    As an ancient, pre-Christian holiday folk song, and as a famous song updated by a national independence activist/martyr, the song has patriotic and other cultural meanings for Ukrainians. That period in their history is the same one from which arose their patriotic “second anthem” that I wrote about recently, Oh, The Red Viburnum in the Meadow, which celebrates the Sich Riflemen in Ukraine’s War for Independence, 1918-1921.  Sing Schedryk or Red Viburnum within hearing of Ukrainians, and you’ll have friends singing along with you, with immense pride, sometimes with tears.

    Next time you hear this song that you’ve known before as the Christmas hymn, Carol of the Bells, think of Ukraine, and thank her. Then help her through this war.

    As I did with a Red Viburnum (Chervona Kalyna) playlist (28 videos), I have compiled a Shchedryk YouTube playlist (48 videos) containing 47 versions of Schedryk, plus the history video above, performed in just about every genre and style over the past hundred years, right up to hard rock.

    For this year’s 100th anniversary of its Carnegie Hall debut on October 5, 1922, today sadly during another Russian war on Ukraine, give the song and Ukraine some time in your heart by immersion in the following performances, then act on what your heart says.

    Before moving on to the concert below, see the following links for verified charities and Ukraine government agencies where you can help Ukraine fight, survive and recover, and help its refugees scattered around the world.  Thank you.  Every bit matters.

    International Rescue Committee (one of my favorites)
    Stand for Ukraine (44 organizations of all kinds) “Stand for Ukraine is an aggregator of reliable organizations that helps to fight the Russian invasion and overcome its consequences. … This website is made by IT engineers, managers, designers, writers, translators, journalists, and activists from all over Ukraine & beyond.”
    Support Ukraine (UA government site with list of ways to help)

    Here are ten more of my favorite Shchedryk performances.  You’ve got to try them.  You will not be disappointed.  Then, see the full playlist for more.  It has something for every taste, from classical to rock.  Really!


    The first known recording of Shchedryk:  Ukrainian National Chorus, led by Alexander Koshetz, circa September 26, 1922 during their European and American tour.


    (YouTube link https://youtu.be/lXQ15PyKM-M)


    Remember the Tom Hanks movie, Big, where he wakes up as a boy in the body of an adult?  He played a giant piano with Robert Logia by dancing on the keys.



    Well, they got nuthin’ on these girls taking a Shchedryk instrumental performance to new heights of cuteness:


    (YouTube Link https://youtu.be/qlZYGZEHMgU)


    In another instrumental of a special kind, this is the couple at the center of the Ukrainian group B&B Project (bandura and button accordion).  I fell in love with them when I saw their performance of one of my favorite classical composers, Vivaldi, played outdoors in great Ukrainian scenery.   It is a joy to watch, and their music is amazing, unlike anything you typically hear in the American popular music market, but certainly should.  They have a playlist with 67 of their pieces.  YOU MUST CHECK IT OUT.

    The bandura, as you know by now from this blog, is the famous Ukrainian instrument.  This is pure fun (thank you, Ukraine):


    (YouTube link https://youtu.be/dZXYpwycBAQ)


    Next, the young Yaroslav Dzhus does “a fantasy” of the song, again on the bandura, which he seems to know his way around.


    (YouTube link https://youtu.be/1ybUOMIIXXM)


    I remember when I had hair like that.  Long since, I donated most of it, roots and all, to science.

    Another instrumental, this is Al Di Meola in the 2008 Our Christmas show in Kyiv.  It has high flying dancers, literally.


    (YouTube link https://youtu.be/dA_jAxTFLM4)


    Finally! One with singing!  Sorta.  A silly-funny animation from Dan Hicks & The Hot Licks Christmas album Crazy For Christmas!  It’s a weird sort of beautiful.  The squirrels kill me.


    (YouTube link https://youtu.be/pOonKkGnNRI)

    SEE???  Say THANK YOU FOR THE SONG, UKRAINE!


    These folks may be having just a bit too much fun.  What else would you expect from a group named The Last Bison?


    (YouTube link https://youtu.be/qMM5qb43LAc)


    Now we get tribal, banging on pipes.  A talented American teenager, Kent Jenkins, made a musical instrument out of PVC plastic pipes and performed Shchedryk on it with a friend (or his brother? or a doppelganger?)  I’m amused by the glances they give each other.


    (YouTube link https://youtu.be/ygjYHldtzaw)


    I am happily obliged to share a singing and dancing performance in traditional clothing.  I was going to put this one first, but I decided to leave you with its taste in your senses and memory.  This is pure delight.  I love the shows in traditional dress.  (Eileen’s is especially good that way.)

    This is also a choir with a deep history, founded and first performing during World War II as Ukraine again struggled for freedom, from the Nazis that time.  It is fitting that this performance be here during today’s war.  Kyiv was destroyed, they write.  It came back.  It will again, as will all of Ukraine, if we help them.

    Here is the text from their YouTube page:

    “Grigory Verevka. Today this name is known far beyond the borders of Ukraine. And it all started in 1943 almost immediately after the liberation of Kharkov from the Nazis, when it was decided to create a Ukrainian folk choir. Grigory Verevka was appointed artistic director. The selection of artists was not easy. Some musicians were specially searched for at the fronts by field mail letters. And vocalists were recruited on trips to cities and villages. Many did not have a musical education – they just loved to sing and had strong vocal abilities. Then the choir moved to Kyiv, and on September 6, 1944, the first concert was given – it was dedicated to the people of Kiev, who were rebuilding their destroyed city. They had to perform without costumes – women hid tarpaulin boots behind the backs of men standing one row below. This was the beginning of a long and glorious journey. On our stage, the pride of Ukraine is the National Honored Academic Ukrainian Folk Choir named after Hryhoriy Verevka.”


    (YouTube link https://youtu.be/caIMVBzLOWg)


    Now that your appetite is up, you can have fun exploring the remaining three dozen performances in the playlist.


    Ukraine is music for the world.  Help them.


    Слава Україні! Героям слава!
    Glory to Ukraine! Glory to heroes!


    Don’t wake me up.


    Second day of the war, February 25, 2022.  Ukrainians taking refuge underground at night during bombing of Kyiv.  What are they dreaming when they can’t sleep?  Photo by Sergey Korovayny.


    Look closely at each person in the picture.
    Help them.

  • Willa (6/22/2022)
    Are her musical gifts enriched by color synesthesia?  Join me for an introduction to a new star born in our midst.
     
    (Note: Willa Blog Post Review is a YouTube playlist of all 24 videos shown or linked in this blog post, in the order presented, including the music, news and interviews.  It is a one-stop source of all the video material presented here.)
     
    I found Willa Amai while looking for covers of the 1993 song What’s Up by Linda Perry and 4 Non Blondes. It is a song that I would scream at the top of my lungs, as it says, if I could sing.  (Image above snipped from Willa’s music video of What’s Up.)

     



     
    The song offers no solution.  Not a clue.  It just says how things feel, and how they don’t make sense, and how we ache because of it, trying to keep the faith, wanting to hope, despite the impenetrable insanity of the inhuman side of humanity.
     
    The song cries out loud from the heart for revolution, the only solution.  As do I, at times in tears, wishing I knew how to start it, finding that all I have is a song short on hope.
     
    It sings, “And I tried, oh my God did I try, I try all the time, in this institution.  And I pray, oh my God do I pray, I pray every single day for a revolution!”
     
    The line demands a middle finger thrust to the sky in revolt.

    It is a song that touches the dark, dips a finger in, pulls out some muck, and says, “What the fuck is this?”  (Despite the “What’s going on” lyric, they named it What’s Up to avoid defiling the sacred ground in Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On (the official music video at this link has compelling imagery), which should be frequently required listening in every school and government office and church and association clubhouse and elevator and nursery.
     
    Perry’s What’s Up screams to be screamed and we should scream it together in response to the lunacy of our time.  That’s what audiences do at live performances of the song.  They scream it together.
     
    “Our time” is a time that I would not be able to cope with except for special helpers that have graced my path, including music and wild nature.  Music immersion is a type of nature immersion, an immersion in the best of human nature.  Nature immersion inspires appreciation for art and artists, musical and otherwise.  Nature immersion inspires reasoning and creativity.  Nature and art are the places to start looking for a way out, a reformation.  Rather, not looking for anything in nature and art, but letting them work in us.  The questing ache that they can arouse can inspire more than we knew could exist, or a real hope in its possibility.  The only trouble with holding hope in possibility is that evil does it, too.  When we let go, it wins.  For every ounce of soil dug by the dark side’s clinging to power we must dig up two ounces.
     
    Willa is a digger.  You’ll know it as you get to know her here.
     

    “BY THE CAMPFIRE IN THE TREES OVER THE WATER.”  From my “Escape to Taylor Pond” June 15-16, 2022. In my 19 hours there, the rest of the world didn’t exist. Did not think about it or feel it at all. Without striving to, I just naturally thought about and felt only what was going on in my immersion in that place.  This included fooling around making visual noise with the camera, not expecting to have any use for the results, but having fun with it as a creative outlet, and as a way to look closely at what was there, what I WAS there.  Time shifted from liquid to gel.  I am my best self in the woods.

     
    There are not many professional covers of the song, but all the ones I found were great. It’s hard to mess up, no matter how you do it.  Like singing This Land is Your Land.
     
    None of them beat the Linda Perry original, but Lady Gaga’s is probably the best of them, in terms of following Perry’s style, aided by Gaga’s semi-sardonic rabid punky bitch jumping up and down screaming.  Hers is a cover that makes it hers.  Willa does that, too, as we shall see, with no screaming.  Willa screams in whispers.
     
    Pink knocks the air out of the room (and sparks a wiggle in your giggle) in her performance of it at the Wembly Arena in London.  I think there’s a sisterhood between Willa, Pink, Gaga and Perry (they have each performed What’s Up in duets with Perry).
     
    There may be a sisterhood between Perry and all who love the song.  I suspect that within a certain small circle of musicians, a cover of this song is a right of passage.  What would I know, being neither musician nor sister?  Hey, sometimes you let things under your skin, then they cook things up from within.
     
    Eleanor’s music video is nice for its instrumental simplicity and harmonica.  Otherwise, it does the job, paying due homage to Perry without distortion.
     
    I love musicians, especially women, who make order and beauty out of raw, aimless, senseless power without taming it, bringing their wild souls to reckon with it, to fructify the soil of it, and let it flourish as skill and style in a song uniquely expressed with their entire body, mind, heart and soul.  This is one of those songs.  Willa is one of those singer-songwriter-musicians.
     
    Guys can do it, too, but not as much fun to witness, and lacking the strange twisting of the innards that leaves air not enough to breath when you scream it with the women.  As for guys, I do like the version by LIZOT & waybackwhen for its seeming toy-slapping at being somber with a playfully gnarly attitude in the music.
     
    Anyone sensitive to what’s going on feels this song’s bittersweet sting even if they never heard it, and instinctively cheers for it to be played again.
     
    Enter the hero of this story, teenager Willa Amai, admired by Linda Perry, who at least once performed the song live with Willa.  Perry met Willa when she was 12 years old, and became her mentor and producer.  Willa’s own cover of the Perry song (coming soon to this verbiage) is better than the duet performance with Perry.
     
    Willa transforms the song into a slow, oozing weight worming its way through the heart. She makes me want to break something unfamiliar just to get inside it, then find out it’s my own heart.  Art can show you what’s going on inside you, tap into your inner goodness, strength and beauty, and make them surge up to the surface.  Likewise with nature immersion.
     

    Immersion.

     
     
    Not just in this song, but in much of her work, appearance and personal style, the way she moves her eyes and lips, the way she winces in the hard parts of the songs, Willa reminds me of someone special from a long time ago, so acutely that it hurts, but I don’t want her to stop.
     
    So, finally!  What you all came here to see!  Willa Amai sings What’s Up:  They are not allowing Willa’s What’s Up video to play embedded on other sites, so you’ll have to click over to it in YouTube: https://youtu.be/MgUrM-vYg5w.  Or click this image that I snipped from the video:
     
    She drops an interesting twist into the video that you don’t expect.  It expands the range of the question, “What’s going on” to a question cried simultaneously around the world.
     
    Who is Willa Amai?  I’d prefer she speak for herself in the videos below, but first, an oddity that she has in common with my grand-niece: when she was 14, she looked like a college student.  At 17, like grad school.  Scary stuff.  And in Willa’s case, in interviews at 14, she spoke with the mind of a far older person.  I suppose some folks would say she’s “an old soul.”  I just think she’s an exceptional exemplar of the species.  She is now 18.
     
    Pay attention.  She is going to take over the world, any minute now.  Thanks in large part to Linda Perry.
     
    You’ll find several favorites in my Willa Amai Playlist.  If you have another favorite Amai song, tell me and I’ll add it to the list, no questions asked.
     
    Up next: some bits from Willa’s website, willaamai.com …
     
    … First, however, I ask that you consider the work of the renowned World Central Kitchen (worldcentralkitchen.org).  Another of their kitchens recently sustained a missle strike in Ukraine.
     
    “Wherever there’s a fight so hungry people may eat,
    we will be there – we must be there.”
     

    You’ve probably heard of founder Chef José Andrés, first rising to global attention for his work in Haiti’s disastrous 2010 earthquake. Now his organization is truly among the first and best of the world’s humanitarian rescue and aid organizations.

    Read his origin story here, and give him two minutes of your time for this video:



    They issue a simple yet profound message. Where people need food, we will be there. Reconstruction and recovery from disaster begins with people who are fed. Eat. We’ll be back tomorrow with more food until you can do it on your own.

    Imagine how the global food crisis caused by Russia in Ukraine affects programs like this, making it hard to get the food they need to share with others.

    Take a step deeper into it: imagine working in one of the World Central Kitchens and being struck by a Russian missile. Or being on one of their trains blown up? WCK is not just feeding people after the disaster. They are in the heart of the disaster, risking their lives every day to feed people.

    June 15, 2022: Russian missile destroys World Central Kitchen train in Ukraine (2 minute news report)


    Apr 18, 2022: Ukrainian restaurant partnering with World Central Kitchen hit by missile (2:40)

    Please don’t skip over these.  Look and listen.  This is our world as it is.  How do we build what it takes, internally as individuals and together as a society, to recover from it and make a better way?


    Apr 8, 2022: World Central Kitchen’s CEO Narrowly Missed the Kramatorsk Bombing | Amanpour and Company (3:13)

    Christiane Amanpour is one of the premier journalists of our time.


    Apr 8, 2022: World Central Kitchen Ramps Up Response To Ukraine War (5:11)

    Note that the founder of World Central Kitchen, Chef Andres, is ON THE GROUND IN THE WAR ZONE.  The boss, getting down in the dirt and digging for hope to have an opportunity to feed people.


    Hmm.  I wonder if I would go half-way around the world into the worst war of my lifetime and feed people.  For free.  A volunteer.

    YOU CAN HELP WORLD CENTRAL KITCHEN — YOU CAN HELP UKRAINE AND COUNTLESS OTHER PLACES IN DESPERATE NEED OF YOUR HELP — HERE: https://donate.wck.org/give/236738/#!/donation/checkout

    Try it. You’ll feel good.

    A lake, three miles long, 90 feet deep, surrounded by thousands of acres of state forest preserve, mountains, valleys, brooks and rivers, all in my neighborhood. Look across the water and see the bombs exploding and the flames and smoke rising from Ukraine, where they, too have places like this, vast, beautiful, spectacular natural resources. I hiked the 1.3 mile in and sat at this remote, scenic, silent (except for loons) lakefront campsite through the night, never realizing I had forgotten all about Ukraine and the world. I was lost in the peace, marveling at it all, feeding sticks into a campfire. I look now at this scene, at my desk, and I see the world again. I see the blood and pain under the billowing smoke and roaring flame.  It’s not for me to walk away. I go there to be here.  I go there to be here.  I will keep going until I am fully here, all of me, the best of me, to begin.  Again.

     
    Back to Willa’s website and some of her songs (quoting from willaamai.com):

    At nine years old, Willa Amai began her journey writing songs about heartbreaks she had yet to experience, losses she had never felt, and social injustices she didn’t even know existed. With eclectic inspirations – from Regina Spektor records played during bath time to the poetry books her parents read to her – this Los Angeles native quickly amassed a body of work revealing lyrical complexity far beyond her years. She also created imaginative melodies, something she partly attributes to synesthesia (a neurological phenomenon in which one sense triggers the perception of another sense, like seeing letters and words as color).


    I guess her “I Guess” is my favorite Willa original.
    I wept the first time I heard it.
    I have a grip on it now.  I can listen with a smile.
    A little broken, but I guess we all are.
    She knows this about us, this teenager, this sign of hope in the world.
    Listen closely.  See what she says to you that is not in the words.

    You’ll just have to listen very closely to the words (slow down the player speed in YouTube Settings if it helps), because I can’t find a text copy of the lyrics.

    In American Songwriter; Willa Amai Drops a Track-by-Track Advance of ‘I Can Go To Bed Whenever,’ Willa wrote:

    “I Guess” is a sort of reassurance for myself, if I’m honest. The song uses each verse to describe a different type of character I imagined in my head, all of whom had a beautiful exterior but broken interior. I use the choruses, then, to talk about how “we’re all a little broken”, and go in between reassurance that it’s normal to have cracks and ragged edges and describing characters I hope listeners can relate to.

    The song also has the most pronounced acoustic guitar, which I felt was so fitting for the reality and tempered optimism the lyrics promote. I wanted there to be a sense of presence when people listen; as if, when you turn the song on, you’re instantly transported into the room with me.

    Recording this song, even though it doesn’t sonically sound the most upbeat, makes me feel the most positively about the people and world around me.


    … Since contributing the spellbinding “Scars” to the Served Like a Girl soundtrack in 2017, Willa has captivated audiences with songs like her stripped-back and beautiful cover of Daft Punk’s “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger”, garnering over 6M YouTube views and over a million streams following its feature in a Cannes Lion and Clio Award-winning TV spot for QuickBooks.  … Esquire Magazine calls her breathtaking rendition of Dolly Parton’s “Here You Come Again” (recorded with Dolly for the talent-filled ‘Dumplin’ soundtrack) “truly exceptional, one of the few moments that an accompanying voice keeps up with Parton’s.” Parton also remarked that “It’s truly refreshing working with young talent like Willa”.



    … Through the years, Willa broadened her sonic palette by taking up guitar and ukulele, self-recording all her material via her computer’s Photo Booth app. At 12-years-old, Amai met multi-platinum, Grammy Award-nominated producer Linda Perry (P!nk, Adele, Gwen Stefani, Christina Aguilera), … When Willa showed up with 6 songs that were emotionally well past her years, Perry realized there was much more to this young musician and took her under her wing. Spending the next two years refining her craft, recording demos, expanding her songwriting, putting a band together, playing live, she signed with the label/publishing/management company Perry co-founded. In her cover of “What’s Up”, the smash-hit originally released by Linda Perry’s 4 Non-Blondes, Willa delivers a captivating rendition of the iconic song, adding a very relevant, modern meaning to “What’s going on!” Willa slowly and powerfully conveys the message of intolerance in the institution, a frustration that still resonates almost thirty years later. The music video was shot, styled, and directed by Willa’s peers, all no older than 18.



    Amai recently performed live for Rock ‘N’ Relief, at Dodger Stadium in LA, with the Silversun Pickups, Miguel, Foo Fighters, and others. Amazon Music, Twitch, Rolling Stone and Comcast Cable live-streamed the benefit to millions for Sean Penn’s non-profit CORE, providing COVID testing and vaccines since 2020 without government aid. Amai is also an ambassador for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), advocating education, and helping NAMI expand a national mental health movement that builds better lives.  [She speaks openly of her anxiety disorder.]


    Then again, maybe this is my favorite Willa Amai song, for now.

    Agh!  She does SO remind me of someone who will never know it.


    I Can Go To Bed Whenever is Willa’s eagerly awaited first album, produced by Perry and recorded in Los Angeles at Perry’s Greenleaf Studios. As she’s immersed herself in the making of this debut album, Willa has felt her songwriting expand and evolve. “There are so many little things that I never paid attention to before – like the space between words, and the power of silence,” she says. “Now that I’m aware of those things, it feels like my songs have more weight to them.” At the same time, she’s also kept up with the instinct-driven process behind her refreshingly unaffected songwriting. “When I’m writing it’s almost like I’m turning on a radio,” she says. “It might take a few songs to find a station that comes through, but once I do find it, it’s just right. It’s like the song already exists, and my job is to pull it out of the air and into the world.” For Willa, the act of bringing songs to life has always served a certain emotional purpose. “I feel like my mind is always going a mile a minute, and music’s like an escape from that – a way to slow down and breathe because time doesn’t move when I’m writing,”


     

    “Time doesn’t move when I’m writing,” she says.  Creativity rises from stillness and immersion.  If more Americans could be still and immersed in nature, more often and for longer sessions, like artists they would reshape “the institution” and make a new and better world.  Willa is in it, calling us to join the art of being.



    Below are some videos where you can see Willa in conversation.  Check out my Willa Amai Favorites (so far) Playlist for more of her songs.  Also see Willa’s YouTube Channel.
     
    See my What’s Up Playlist of all versions of What’s Up linked to in this post, and a few others.
     

     





    It has been a pleasure to gather these thoughts, songs and information to introduce this new star.  Thanks for being there to make it even more worthwhile.

    Glory to Ukraine!


  • Bella Ciao – Obiymy – Embrace Me – Despacito – Do Something (8/14/2022)

    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.


  • NATO Parliamentary Assembly declares Russia terrorist state (11/24/2022)
    I support the Ukrainian World Congress and their
    #StandWithUkraine and #UniteWithUkraine campaigns.
     
    Article by Ukrainian World Congress, November 22, 2022:
     
    Image: President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the assembly with a speech virtually from Kyiv.

    President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the assembly with a speech virtually from Kyiv.

    At its 68th Annual Session in Madrid, the NATO Parliamentary Assembly recognized Russia as a terrorist state and called for a special tribunal to be set up to investigate Russian war crimes, The Kyiv Independent reported.

    All 30 alliance members supported the resolution proposed by the Ukrainian delegation.

    “The resolution names Russia the most direct threat to Euro-Atlantic security,” said Tomáš Valášek, head of the Slovak delegation to the NATO PA. “It states clearly that the state of Russia, under its current regime, is a terrorist one,” he added.

    President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the assembly with a speech virtually from Kyiv.

    “Ukrainians do not just believe – Ukrainians are sure that we can defend ourselves in this war and reinstate the borders of a united Europe to the entire length of our eastern and southern borders. Ukrainians do not just believe – Ukrainians know that the strength of our democracy will be a guarantee that no tyranny to the east of us will be able to threaten Europe. But to realize all these steps, to realize all of this, we have to use all the strength of our community, all the potential of our cooperation in order to gradually stop this terrorist Russian war and restore peace,” Zelensky said.

    The Ukrainian World Congress welcomes this important decision taken by the NATO PA as one more step toward the complete international isolation of the Russian Federation.

    Visit UWC‘s website for the best reports
    on Russia’s war against Ukraine.
      Free.  Not-for-profit.

    Subscribe for free daily, weekly or monthly newsletter.



    Unite with the brave men and women on the front lines of Ukraine’s fight for freedom!

    The UWC, with over 55 years of experience working with Ukrainians around the globe, is in a unique position to quickly and efficiently provide help to Ukraine’s defenders. Your donation to the Unite with Ukraine campaign will help coordinate global aid efforts and support the procurement and delivery of an evolving range of needs, including:

    • medical supplies, such as individual first aid kits
    • fuel
    • night-vision goggles
    • protective equipment, such as helmets and vests
    • vital communication systems

    The Ukrainian people have demonstrated their desire and inspiring will to live in a free and democratic country.

    Civilian men and women have courageously stepped forward to join the territorial defense units in their cities. They have volunteered to protect their families and their homeland from an evil tyrant, and they need our help.

    By donating to help the defenders of Ukraine today, you are helping to secure a peaceful and prosperous future for the world.

    UKRAINIAN WORLD CONGRESS –
    CLICK HERE TO UNITE WITH UKRAINE

    Together, we can send a message to the Ukrainian people that they are not alone.

    Unite with us in this moment.
    Unite with us in this fight.
    Unite with Ukraine!

    Ukrainian World Congress – 145 Evans Avenue, Suite 207,
    Toronto, Ontario M8Z 5X8 Canada
    +1 416 323-3020
     

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


  • Shchedryk Returns to Carnegie Hall for Centennial Performance (12/7/2022)

    I sing, therefore I am.

    “A 1919 review of the Ukrainian Republic Choir in the Genevan journal La Patrie Suisse mused that the Ukrainian National Republic established its independence through the motto, ‘I sing, therefore I am.’  Ukraine continues to sing and continues to be.”  —Notes from Ukraine (carolofthebells100.org)

    How often does an art reviewer from a neutral country declare that a choir’s performance inspired a nation’s victory in their war for independence?  That choir performed for the first time in America in Carnegie Hall in 1922, during that war, which ultimately ended in Russia consuming Ukraine into the Soviet Union, though Ukraine had made itself an independent nation, and despite Soviet domination remained a republic to this day.  (Ask the UN who were the first signatories to its charter in 1945.  One of them was the Soviet Republic of Ukraine, a nation by UN’s definition.  Ukraine was the first republic to break away from the Soviet Union, causing the collapse of that Union.  It absolutely could not survive without Ukraine.)  One hundred years later, on December 4, 2022, Ukraine returned to Carnegie Hall to bring again the power of music during war.

    “CULTURE UNDER THREAT” says the website of Notes from Ukraine (carolofthebells100.org), and then, that culture again exerts its centuries-old power to overcome the threat.  The website continues, with this inspiring statement:

    Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24, 2022, has purposefully sought to destroy Ukrainian culture as part of its aims. Cultural sites have repeatedly been the target of attacks including works by painter Maria Prymachenko at the Ivankiv Historical and Local History Museum, the historic home and museum of Ukrainian poet and philosopher Hryhorii Skovoroda in the Kharkiv region, and the Theater of Music and Drama in Mariupol.

    Just as in 1922, the Ukrainian National Republic used the soft power of music to preserve and promote Ukraine’s independence, Ukrainian artists today are once again turning to culture to communicate with the world. A 1919 review of the Ukrainian Republic Choir in the Genevan journal La Patrie Suisse mused that the Ukrainian National Republic established its independence through the motto, “I sing, therefore I am.” Ukraine continues to sing and continues to be.

    I continue supporting Ukraine by raising awareness of her people and their culture, letting them speak for themselves in this venue.  It is by knowing them, by being consciously aware of who they are and what Ukraine is, that we may better grasp the reality of our responsibility for standing with her, or going down with her as a democracy, as a free and self-governing people, things under great threat in the United States.

    On May 22, 2022, I posted Щедрик – Shchedryk, On the Generosity of Spring, with Music, a report, and something of a concert of the ancient pre-Christian Ukrainian folk song Shchedryk and its modern derivatives, first in the 19th Century Ukrainian revised folk lyrics about a sparrow heralding the New Year and the generosity of spring (the new year of the old pagan culture), and then in the 20th Century Carol of the Bells lyrics, one of the most beloved holiday songs in the world, played everywhere, in endless versions from native to classical to rock.

    The song is one of Ukraine’s many timeless cultural manifestations aloft in the soul of a world at peace or in war, a world still worthy of hope, despite our desperate and seemingly hopeless condition (which is how it usually feels to me lately).  This music changes the condition of the heart that way.  I’m grateful for that.  We can all benefit by turning to art for hope, and Ukraine has it in ongoing bountiful and inspiring supply.

    One might say, “We listen, therefore we are.”

    I applaud Carnegie Hall and all the sponsors and supporters of the concert, Notes From Ukraine, bringing this enduring Ukrainian music back on December 4, 2022 for the 100th anniversary of the 1922 first Carnegie Hall performance by the Ukrainian Republic Capella on its first world tour.

    I appreciate National Public Radio for its report on the event, a far more thorough radio news treatment of the culturally important topic of Shchedryk than I have heard from any U.S. public radio or public TV report.  Carnegie Hall does not get ignored.

    In 1919, the Ukrainian Republic Capella, the national choir of the newly independent Ukrainian National Republic, embarked on a cultural diplomacy mission to spread awareness of a newly independent Ukrainian nation around the world. Under the auspices of the head of the republic, Symon Petliura, and his Ministries for Education and Foreign Affairs, the choir toured Europe and North America. Directed by renowned composer and conductor Oleksandr Koshyts, the Ukrainian Republic Capella shared Ukraine’s unique choral tradition by way of promoting the country’s sovereignty and distinctiveness from “the Russian world.”

    The first stop on the North American tour, the choir sang on the stage of New York City’s Carnegie Hall on October 5, 1922. This momentous performance would mark the first time North American audiences heard Mykola Leontovych’s “Shchedryk”, a New Year’s song that would become the beloved Christmas classic, “Carol of the Bells.” The choir subsequently performed throughout the United States, but it was Carnegie Hall where the mesmerizing melody first reached American audiences.  – Notes from Ukraine website 

    Here is the NPR report audio track.  It is worth a listen.  The actual concert starts below.

    “Shchedryk Children’s Choir, along with several choruses and soloists, took to the famed stage on Sunday [December 4, 2022] to perform a slew of Ukrainian carols.” – NPR

    ⚡️The famous Ukrainian carol ‘Shchedryk,’ also known as ‘Carol of the Bells,’ was performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City on Dec. 4.  The carol had its first performance at Carnegie hall 100 years ago, in 1922.  The concert included the Shchedryk Children’s Choir from Kyiv. pic.twitter.com/N0i3bwXOvQ
    The Kyiv Independent (@KyivIndependent) December 5, 2022

    Here is the 2.5-hour Carnegie performance on Vimeo.  Apparently it is not available on YouTube at this time.


    I can’t talk about it.  Nothing I say will honor it as deserved, except: listen.  Watch.  As you see their faces, hear the magic of angelic music, feel yourself swept out of yourself for a while, sometimes surprisingly sharply ripped out, try not to think too many times about what is happening back home as they sing for us.  Try not to consider too many times the bombs and missiles falling on their homes, schools, hospitals, playgrounds, ancient architecture and art.  Try not to remember all we have heard about women being raped, reportedly from the age of four to the eighties.  Try not to think too much about bullets ripping through the heads of innocent non-combatants kneeling with their hands tied behind their backs, often tortured beyond anything you or I can comprehend one human doing to another, all the way to dismemberment.  Avoid the sight of the massive ditch burials, the limbs, hands, feet and faces sticking out of the soil as they are gradually uncovered, bagged, and carried away, in some instances scores of bags laid in rows until they could be transported.  Don’t look too much at the people doing this work of salvaging the remnants of their fellow citizens, including doing it for Russian soldiers left behind by their army in shallow graves.  Stop paying attention to the unreal horrors that the singers’ and bandurists’ friends and family back home continue to suffer as we watch them sing.  Singing to be.  Avoid too much immersion in consciousness of their lives as you see their faces emit angelic sounds.  It could shred you.

    On second thought, be fucking shredded.  See the reality of it all.  Go there in your mind and just you try, to that tiny extent we can, to imagine what it is like over there.  It is not over there if you try.  It is here, in us, in our embrace of the music at Carnegie Hall, and with them as they return home to practice in basements with flashlights as bombs fall around them, in the cold.

    If you are silly enough not to watch it all, at least watch the end, beginning at 2:12 for a haunting close to a long song.  At 2:17, there is a five-minute standing ovation until the audience started chanting, “Shchedryk!  Shchedryk!  Shchedryk!  Shchedryk!”  That brought on the end of applause and the beginning of the finale, sung by all of the choirs, groups, soloists and bandurists together.  I did not get a count, but their number swamped the stage, children and adults.  You don’t get Shchedrykated like that just anywhere.  The audience roared some of the performers to tears.  They declared, as do I:

    Слава Україні! Героям слава!
    Slava Ukraini!
    Glory to Ukraine! Glory to heroes!

    We are all Ukrainians now.  Not that we are not all also Sudanese and Somali and Syrian and among the FOUR HUNDRED MILLION Chinese in lockdown.  For now, I am mostly Ukrainian, because if we let them lose the war, Ukraine will be no more.  Putin wants them to end as a nation, as a culture, as a people, banishing the Ukrainian Church, the Ukraine language, Ukraine customs.  They would sing never again forever at Carnegie Hall.  Then comes down the Western World as we know it, beginning with Putin and other tyrants striking democracy with all their might.  They may not win, but it will be hell for a long time for our descendents.  Hell like in Ukraine, where Russia is teaching its comrades around the world how to invoke hell.

    Glory to Ukraine, indeed, thus glory to you, embracing your Ukraine brothers and sisters, as one of them.  Sing their songs.


    Ukraine’s National Anthem Translated to English, sung by a variety of Ukrainians, culturally diverse, people with family origins in many countries, all confirming, “We are all Ukrainian now.”  They do it as a sing-along.  How convenient for you!  Lyrics below.  In the text under the YouTube video, they suggest you sing with them, “so that we can feel your support.”

    Of the great number of videos posted in this blog, this may be my favorite.  The one after it is a close contender for first place.


    Glorious spirit of Ukraine shines and lives forever.
    Blessed by Fortune brotherhood will stand up together.
    Like the dew before the sun enemies will fade,
    We will further rule and prosper in our promised land.

    We will lay our soul and body for the cherished freedom.
    Cossack blood will raise the nation of the joyous people.

    For the liberty the folk strives ardently from San to Don,
    And will let no alien power in our common home.
    Aged Dnieper and Black Sea arm in arm rejoice,
    And Ukraine will see daylight and live by Fortune’s choice.

    We will lay our soul and body for the cherished freedom.
    Cossack blood will raise the nation of the joyous people.

    Passion and hard-working hands prove bright future true.
    Song of freedom, loud and clear, guides us all way through.
    Over mountains and steppes it flows, over ages told.
    Valorous Ukraine stands strong in a thriving world.

    We will lay our soul and body for the cherished freedom.
    Cossack blood will raise the nation of the joyous people.

    P.S.
    Our translation of the Ukrainian Anthem into Russian is here: https://youtu.be/3K4EOWD22oI



    You may not be able to sing along with this.  But you can chant, “Shchedryk, Shchedryk, Shchedryk,” as did the audience in Carnegie Hall three days ago.


    Sung in Ukrainian and English:


    Shchedryk, shchedryk, shchedrivochka
    Here flew the swallow from afar
    Started to sing lively and loud
    Asking the master to come out
    Come here, oh come, master – it’s time
    In the sheepfold wonders to find
    Your lovely sheep have given birth
    To little lambs of great worth
    All of your wares are very fine
    Coin you will have in a big pile
    All of your wares are very fine
    Coin you will have in a big pile
    You have a wife
    Fair as a dove
    If not the coin, then the chaff
    You have a wife fair as a dove

    By now, if you’ve followed my Ukraine series, you can translate this:

    Слава Україні! Героям слава!




…..