This File Last Updated: 2001/03/08

Return to the Kandrat Krapiva Web page     Go to the Belarusian Writers Web page     Go to the Famous Belarusians Web page     Go to the A Belarus Miscellany Topic List

Note: The Cyrillic Belarusian on this page is in Unicode (UTF-8) font encoding.


    Кандрат Крапіва


      Сава лятала паначы,
      3 сабою птушкам смерць насіла,
      Хаўтурны спеў ім пеючы,—
    Сама там драла іх, сама ж і галасіла,
    Ды так не ўбачыла, як нахапіўся дзень,
      I Сонца яркага прамень
      Дарэшты асляпіў ёй вочы.
      Сава ўцячы тут хоча,
      Ды толькі вось ляцець не можа,
      А поблізу няма дупла нідзе.
      Заплакала Сава ў бядзе —
      Ну, хто ж Саве паможа?
      На шчасце ёй тут лёс паслаў
        Знаёмага Асла.
    I кажа ён: — Не плач, сястрыца,
        Ды надта не бядуй,—
      3 бяды мы вырабімся самі,
    I Сонцу нам не прыйдзецца скарыцца:
    Я вушы доўгія на Сонца навяду
        I засланю яго вушамі.
      Як цемра ўсю пакрые галу,
      Як згіне прыкрае святло,
      Дык ты й ляці сабе ў дупло
        Тады памалу.
    I наш Асёл за працу ўзяўся шчыра:
      Як можна вушы свае шырай
      Ён растапырыў, распрастаў
        I проці Сонца стаў.
      Калі ж налева глянуў коса —
      Святла там яркая палоса.
        Ён — гоп у левы бок.
    Пасля глядзіць — святло і справа
        Тады назад ён — скок.
    Нарэшце бачыць — дрэнна справа:
    Скакаў, скакаў і ўжо насілу ходзіць,
      А Сонцу ўсё ніяк не шкодзіць,—
        Ні каплі не памог Саве,
        А вочы пасляпіў сабе.
      I вось Аслу нарэшце ясна стала:
    Каб Сонца засланіць — вушэй асліных мала.

      Вось гэту праўду едкіх слоў
      Нясу, абураны, я на фашысцкіх соў
        I іх заступнікаў-аслоў.

The Owl, the Ass, and the Sun

    Kandrat Krapiva

    A Fable

      The White Owl flew forth in the night,
      Death to the bird-folk she was bringing,
      She sang them dirges in her flight,
    And as she plucked them, she bewailed them in her singing.
    And thus she did not see day had already come,
      And the ray of the bright Sun
      Blinded her eyes at last from seeing.
      The Owl longs to be fleeing,
      But strength for flight she cannot muster,
      No hollow tree at hand where she might go.
      The Owl weeps in her woe —
      Who is there to assist her?
      But kind fate sent her in this pass
        A well-known Ass.
    And he said: 'Sister, do not weep, but end your
        Worries and your concern —
      We'll solve this plight of yours together,
    And to the Sun we need not make surrender.
    My long ears set to face against the Sun I'll turn,
        My ears shall shade it over.
      And when the dark the wide land covers,
      And when this hateful brilliance wanes,
      Back to your hollow tree again
        You'll fly and hover.'
    And our Ass started keenly on his labour;
      His grey ears, wide as he was able,
      He stretched and spread, all that he could,
        Against the Sun he stood.
      But, on the left, a ray was peeping,
      A beam of light came brightly creeping.
        So, to the left he hopped!
    Then — on the right — illumination!
        So back again he popped!
    At last he sees the situation
    Is hopeless, jumping to and fro,
      But does it touch the Sun — O no!
        He doesn't help the Owl one whit!
        And blinds his own eyes doing it!
      At last the Ass the truth clearly discovers:
    And Ass's ears are far too small the Sun to cover.

      The truth in these sharp words displayed
      I bring, perturbed, to Owls who are of Fascist trade,
        And asses — those who lend them aid.


Translated into English by Vera Rich in Like Water, Like Fire (1971), pp. 112-113, and also reproduced in McMillin's book (see next note).

Comment by Arnold McMillin: "Not surprisingly, some of Krapiva's works were modified or altered as the political climate worsened in the late 20s. The satirical poem Red-nosed Chviados (Chviados - čyrvony nos, 1931), for example, underwent considerable revision before reaching print, and the names of many prominent critics and other public figures were removed. One of the best-known fables, The Owl, the Ass, and the Sun (Sava, asioł i sonca, 1927) acquired the somewhat improbable last three lines between its original appearance in Uzvyšša and inclusion in a collection of fables five years later."

Comment by Anthony Adamovich: ". . . 'The Owl, the Ass, and the Sun' is especially biting. It unequivocally portrays Bolshevism as the Owl who, using the darkness of night to prey on birds, 'tore them apart herself, wept for them herself,' but could not act in the daytime, in the light of the sun. The Ass (Belorussian National Communism) diligently but unsuccessfully tries to hide the light of the sun with his ears so that the Owl can carry on her work in the daytime as well. Krapiva facilitated interpretation of the fable by drawing a very exact and vivid portrait of the ideological leader of the National Communists, Žyłunovič-Hartny, in describing the Ass. Most boldly written, this fable is one of the most scathing oppositional attacks made by Krapiva, or by any Uzvyšša (Excelsior) writer. Interestingly, when 'The Owl, the Ass, and the Sun' was included in Krapiva's Selected Fables [1927], published after the first wave of attacks on the "Belorussian National-Democratic counterrevolution,' the author was obliged to 'insure' it by adding an ending which directed the satire against capitalism and fascism."

Return to the Kandrat Krapiva Web page     Go to the Belarusian Writers Web page     Go to the Famous Belarusians Web page     Go to the A Belarus Miscellany Topic List

Original content and overall form ©1996-2006 by Peter Kasaty : All Rights Reserved. Last Updated:  2001/03/08
Quoted Text, Graphics, Links, and Linked Content belong to their respective owners.