The Clown’s Tear – a lyrical impression on the dramatic events in Ukraine

by Krzystof Czyżewski

the clown’s tear
is unbearable to the sleepless
who keep vigil while darkness falls on Skakun’s bridge
blasted in defence of Bucha

it rolls down the face
of an Earth bloodied
with the pained grimace of Irpien

Denizens of Earth, dip your nib in it
this ink writes the truth still
the word shot down along with the body of Kharkiv

forget about your reasons
they know their heart is right
the defenders of Kyiv

stand eye to eye with the clown
he bows down not to statesmen
he stays put tut – against the tide – on the bridge of Zaporizhia
for before him he sees
the pregnant woman on a stretcher
and the mayor of Hostomel

he winds the dead’s light in the tear’s shroud
he flows along the wrinkle of the Dniepr into the nation’s heart
he marches towards you, along the Greek shores of Odessa

he snakes his way through your dreams
all the way to Rome
bearing a betrayed Crimea

he bears the tear of a child who isn’t Ivan’s
in whose name everything was permitted and so the Russians
shot up a kindergarten in Starobielsk

he will not renounce faith
as he bends over each one buried
in the ruins of Kherson

he reaches further than does the beast’s power
from the hell of the open sky, he marches towards you
along the rozbombiony bridge of Europe
in the tear of the Everyman
he carries the morality play’s cry
from Mariupol

the one from Aleppo Sarajevo Warsaw
the one from Guernica Grozny and Masada
he bears the nursing home for the elderly killed in Kreminna

you, tied up in your ties,
fear the clown
and like China you turn a blind eye

with false weight you detach beauty
from the good, orphaned from truth
you lose track of the meridian from Chernivitsi

you say he left the clown
behind, the Jew
from Kryvyi Rih

but this tear in the recurring tragedy
who would dare wipe it from the face
chained by the mute cry of Babi Yar

that one marches toward you
not reading from a script
he tells about Russia

make room for him, let him enter your heart
the one who sees darkness clearly and kneels
by the dead waiting in line for bread in Chernihiv

the clown’s tear
transforms the Earth, the peremoha
marches from Ukraine

by Krzystof Czyżewski

translated by Diana Kuprel

*The Polish original uses three Ukrainian words: tut = here, and refers to Zelensky’s declaration that he will stay in Ukraine to fight; rozbombiony = bombed out; and peremoha = a long- and hard-fought victory in a battle that will go on.

**Ivan is a reference to Ivan Karamazov in Dostoyevsky’s novel, The Brothers Karamazov.

Here you will find the French version of the poem, with a more extensive commentary:
larme d’un clown