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Lesja Ukrainka

Encyclopedia of the life and works


Act 2

Lesja Ukrainka

Translated by Percival Cundi

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Late summer. Here and there the dark, dull leaves of the trees are touched with autumn yellow. The lake has diminished in size, its beaches have broadened out; the reeds and rushes with their scanty leaves make a dry rustling.

A house has been erected in the glade and a vegetable garden planted. There are also two fields, one of rye and one of wheat. Geese are swimming on the lake. Linen is drying on the shore; household utensils hang on bushes near the house. The grass in the glade has been mowed down short, and a stack of hay is piled up under the oak. The cackle of poultry is heard among the trees and in places cattle are browsing. Nearby a pipe is heard playing a lively dance tune.


(Coming out of the house and calling)

Lukash, hey! Where are you?


(He comes out of the forest, carrying his pipe and a carved walking stick.)

Here, Mother, here!


Isn’t it time to quit that pipe of yours?

You play and play and let the work stand still.


What work is there?


You ask, what work is there?

Whose job is it to build that cattle pen?


All right, all right, I’ll do it right away.


And when will be that “right away” of yours?

You’re always running off to fool around

With that bold hussy, that queer vagabond!


Who’s running off? I drive the cattle out

To feed and Mavka helps.


A lot of good

Is such a help as hers!


You said yourself

That when she takes care of the cows, more milk

They always give.


Oh! Sure – by witches’ tricks!


There’s nothing that she does e’er pleases you.

When we put up the house, was it not she

Who brought the wood? And who was it who helped

You with the garden, helped to sow the fields?

Did ever you get harvest like this year’s?

The lovely flowers she has planted there

Beneath the window – what a pretty sight!


Much good are all those flowers, since I have

No daughter in the house to marry off…

There’s nothing on your mind but flowers and songs!

(Lukash shrugs his shoulders impatiently and starts to go away.)

Where are you off to now?


To build that pen.

(He goes around the house and a little later the sound of a chopping axe is heard).

Mavka comes out of the forest, richly decked with flowers and her hair hanging loose.



Now what?


Where’s Lukash, Auntie, do you know?


You’re always running after him. It is

Not seemly for a maid to chase a youth.


No one e’er said the like of that to me!


Well, hear it now for once; ‘twill do no harm.

(She looks at Mavka sourly.)

Why do you always go trimmed up like that?

You’re always combing, fixing up your hair.

You dress up like a witch. It isn’t nice.

And what is all that rubbish you’ve got on?

Not practical at all for working in.

I’ve got some things of my dead daughter’s there:

Go put them on – you’ll find them hanging up;

These you can lay away inside the chest.


Oh, very well, I’ll go and change my dress.

(She goes into the house as Uncle Lev comes out.)


Not e’en a word of thanks!

Uncle Lev

Why, sister, must

You always nag and nag the girl like that?

What has she ever done to give you cause?


Ah, brother, you would scarcely do a thing

Unless we pester you. You’d bring in here

Amongst us all the witches from the woods.

Uncle Lev

If you’d talk sense – of things you understand –

I’d listen; but this talk of “witches from the woods”…

There are none there, for witches only dwell

In villages with folk.


You think that you

Are very wise, don’t you? If you attract

This forest trash you’ll find some day what good

You’ve gained by it!

Uncle Lev

Why, sure I’ll gain great good.

What comes out of the forest is not trash –

All good things from the forest come.



Oh yes!

Uncle Lev

From maids like her good humans come, that’s what!


What sort of humans? You’ve been drinking, eh?

Uncle Lev

A lot you know! My dead grandfather used

To say: You only need to know the word,

And you can make a soul the same as ours

To enter into any forest sprite.


And will the smell that witches always have

Then also disappear?

Uncle Lev

Ah, what’s the use!..

I’d do much better to go back to work

Than stay here chattering with you!


Then go!

Who’s stopping you? Am I?

Uncle Lev goes away, shaking his head angrily.

Mavka comes out of the house, having changed her dress. She is wearing a blouse of coarse material, poorly made and patched in places, a scanty skirt and a faded apron. Her hair is now smoothly combed and made into two plaits which are wound around her head.


I’ve changed my dress.


Now that is something like. All right; meanwhile

I’ll go along and get the chickens fed.

I meant to do some work amongst the hemp;

But we have lots of still unfinished tasks

And you, somehow, don’t give much help…


Why so?

I gladly do the work if I know how.


“If I know how”. You’re always saying that.

A pretty farmer’s working girl you make!

In haying time, your head it was that ached…

But now you’ve got to reap…


I’ve got to reap!

You want me to go out and reap today?


And why not, pray? Today’s no holy day.

(She gets out a sickle from behind the door and hands it to Mavka.)

Here is the sickle; try it. When I’m done,

I’ll lend a hand.

(She goes away, taking with her a basket of grain. Soon she is heard calling and clucking to the chickens as she scatters food for them to eat.)

Lukash appears with an axe and approaches a young tree, manifestly intending to chop it down.


Sweetheart, don’t touch that tree!

It’s living, don’t you see?


Leave me alone!

I haven’t time!

Mavka looks him sadly in the face.

All right, find me dead wood…


(She leaves swiftly, and returns, dragging a considerable amount of dead wood.)

I’ll find you more… Will you be needing much?


How much? Enough to make up this one pen.


Somehow you’ve turned quite disagreeable.


Well, see… Because of you my mother nags.


What does she want? And how is she concerned?


Concerned? Why, I’m her son…


Her son – so what?


She doesn’t fancy such a daughter-in-law…

She has no liking for the forest folk…

An unkind mother-in-law she’d be to you.


We in the forest do not know such things.

What mean all these “in-laws” you talk about?

I don’t grasp it.


She wants a daughter-in-law

Because she needs some help… she’s getting old.

It isn’t right to have to hire help;

A hired maid is not a daughter-in-law…

In truth, all this you’ll never understand…

To understand these human cares and woes,

One should grow up elsewhere than in these woods.



You tell me – then I’ll clearly comprehend,

Because I love you. And I grasped at once

The meaning of each song I heard you play?


The songs I played? There’s no great art in that!


Do not despise that flowering of your soul,

For from your music this our love was born!

Like to the magic blossom of the fern,

Which hath creative power within itself,

So in me there was born another heart

When I found that I knew your songs. Right then

A fiery miracle took place…

(Breaking off suddenly.)

You laugh?


In truth, it did seem somewhat humorous…

To see you dressed in working clothes, and hear

You talk as though delivering a speech.


(Tearing at the dress she is wearing)

I’ll burn this up!


Then Mother’ll scold the more.


What care I, when this dress seems to have made

A change in me to you.


I knew ‘t would come…

From now on there’ll be nothing but reproach…


No, sweetheart, I am not reproaching you;

I’m only sad because you cannot bring

Your life up to the level of your soul.


I do not understand just what you mean.


Ah, that is why I love you most of all:

Because you do not understand yourself,

Although your soul sings all about what’s there

So clearly and sincerely through your pipe.


And what is there?


Something more beautiful

Than all your dear and handsome manliness –

But I can not express it as I would…

(Lovingly but sadly she gazes at him for a moment in silence.)

Play something for me, sweetheart, on your pipe,

And let it banish evil far away.


‘Tis not the right time now for me to play.


Well then, embrace me, so I may forget

This conversation.


Hist! Mother may hear!

For see, she’s always calling you a bold

And brazen girl.


(Flaring up.)

Yes! One who’s not grown up

With you will never know you! “Brazen, bold”:

What does she mean? Because I love you, eh?

Because I told you first? Is it a shame

For me to have a generous heart, which hides

No treasures it possesses, but at once

Bestows them all upon the one it loves

Without awaiting any pledges first?


It might have hope that they would be returned.


Again a strange expression, meaningless…

“Return?” You gave to me the gifts you wished

To give as I gave likewise unto you,

Unbounded, numberless…


So then, ‘tis well,

When neither can the other blame for aught.

You said so once yourself… Don’t you recall?


Why should I now recall what once I said?


(Coming from behind the house)

Is that the way you reap? And build the pen?

Lukash hastily drags off his wood.

If you, my girl, have no desire to reap,

I will not force you to. Somehow, myself,

I’ll get it done. But when the autumn comes,

Please God, I’ll find a daughter-in-law to help.

You know, there is a widow, strong and smart;

She’s sending inquiries here through the folk,

And I sent back to say that if my son

Is not against it, then… The sickle, dear;

Give it to me… I have no other one.


I’ll reap. You go and work among the hemp.

Mother crosses the glade and conceals herself in the reeds.

Mavka swings the sickle and bends down over the rye. Suddenly out of the rye Field Sprite springs up. The green dress she is wearing shows in places through her long golden hair which falls down all over her small figure. Round her head she wears a blue fillet, and daisies and other field flowers are twined in her hair.

Field Sprite

(Rushing beseechingly to Mavka)

Oh, sister, stay such shameful toil!

My beauty thus do not despoil!


I must.

Field Sprite

Already I’ve been sadly torn,

The flowers slain that I have borne.

Those flowers ne’er will come again,

For they were cut down with the grain.

My poppies red with fury burned,

But now to blackness they have turned.

The soil is now like blood congealed

In this my once so happy field…


I must, my sister. All your loveliness

Returns each year in still more gorgeous dress;

But if my happiness should fade today,

‘Tis gone for aye!

Field Sprite

(Wringing her hands and bowing in grief as a stalk is bent by the wind.)

Woe, alas! My lovely hair!

My golden, glorious hair!

Woe, alas! My beauty fair!

Condemned to disappear!


Your beauty was not made with time to vie,

But merely for a time to bloom, then die.

I cannot help it, though you wail and weep;

If I do not, some other will you reap…

Field Sprite

O grant me, sister, but a moment’s grace

In this field to sport and race.

Let me enjoy this paradise of dreams

While still the summer beams.

While rye stands in the field,

The hour’s not yet when I at last must yield.

A moment, but a moment, dearest one,

Ere my poor beauty must be done!

‘Twill then itself lie down for ever still…

O sister, be not like the winter chill,

Who cannot be besought, cannot be swayed!


I’d gladly do as you have prayed,

But I’m no longer free, this duty I daren’t shirk.

Field Sprite

(Reaching up to Mavka’s ear and whispering)

Does it not sometimes happen in this work

That with the sickle one may wound the hand?

Such pain, O sister, you could surely stand;

Some drops of blood to save me would suffice…

Is not my beauty worthy such a price?


(She draws the sickle across her hand and the blood spurts out over Field Sprite’s golden hair.)

See, sister, I have taken your advice!

Field Sprite bows low before Mavka in gratitude, then springs up and vanishes in the stalks of rye.

Lukash’s mother comes from the lake accompanied by a full-faced young widow who is wearing a red kerchief with fringes, a dark red skirt with narrow and regular pleating, and a similarly pleated apron, garnished with white, blue, and yellow braid sewn on it. Her chemise is heavily embroidered in red and blue; a necklace with many trinkets attached jingles around her white, chubby neck. Her bodice is tightly laced around her plump torso, and this makes her figure appear all the more opulent. She walks with such long strides that the older woman has difficulty in keeping up with her.


(Very amiably)

Come, on, Kilina; there, around the birch,

You’ll find much fresher herbs. The yarrow there…

You’d like a boiling of it, wouldn’t you?

It’s very good indeed, my dear, with milk.


I’ve so much milk I don’t know what to do.

I wish the fair were soon, I’d buy more pails.

My cow is one of Turkish breed, a cow

My dear departed got somewhere… And young…

My Lord, you never saw the like! Somehow

I manage to get all the farm work done,

But there’s the house as well. O dearie me!

A widow has to split herself in two.

She talks dolefully, making a drooping mouth.


And yet my dear, you did get it all done!

But then, of course, when one’s industrious,

One manages… Yet here, with two small fields,

We have no such success.


(Looking at the field where Mavka is standing.)

Ah, who is that

You’ve got a-reaping there?


Some orphan girl…


Ah, God forgive me! Not a bit of good.


(Coming up with Mother to Mavka)

Good day, my girl! The reaping going good?


Oh, goodness me! She hasn’t started yet!

A plague on you! What have you done the while,

You good-for-nothing! Worthless, lazy slut!



I cut my hand…


And for what reason, pray?


Give me the sickle… Let me take a swing.

Mavka puts the sickle behind her and stares with hostility at Kilina.


Give her the sickle now! It isn’t yours!

(She snatches the sickle out of Mavka ‘s hand and gives it to Kilina, who rushes to the rye and reaps so furiously that the straws whistle under her strokes.)



Ah, that’s the way to reap!

(Without stopping her work.)

If someone here

Would twist some bands for sheaves, I’ll clear this field

Off at a single stretch.



Lukash, come here!


(Coming up, to Kilina)

God give you power!


(Without looking up.)

Thank you.


Lukash, you

Can bind the sheaves for our good visitor.

Your “helper” has already cut herself.

Lukash begins to bind sheaves.

Well, keep it up, my children. I must go

And boil some dumplings for your midday meal.

She leaves, while Mavka goes off to the birch and, leaning against it, peers through its hanging branches at the two workers.

For some time Kilina keeps up her furious reaping; then she stops, straightens up, and gazes at the bent figure of Lukash stooping over the sheaves. She smiles, and with three long strides walks up to him and gives him a hearty slap on the back.


Come on, young fellow! Don’t crawl like a snail!

There’s still a lot to do.

(She bursts into a resounding laugh.)


(Also straightening up.)

How fast you work!

But don’t brag yet. I’m still the stronger one!


(Throwing down the sickle, she stands with hands on hips.)

All right, just try it out! We’ll see who wins!

Lukash darts towards her but she holds him back. They then take positions “to measure strength” by placing the open palms of their hands pressed flat each against the other’s and straining to see which one will first give way. For a time they are evenly matched; then Kilina yields slightly, laughing loudly and making play with her eyes. Lukash, inflamed, pushes her hands wide apart and tries to kiss her, but at the last moment she trips him and he falls.


(Standing over him and laughing.)

Now who’s the winner? Who’s the stronger one?


(He rises, breathing heavily.)

That was a trick… you tripped me.


But I won!

The door of the house slams. Kilina again starts to reap and Lukash to bind sheaves. Soon the field appears dark; only the stubble and the standing stooks of sheaves are left on its surface. Apart from these, there are some scattered piles of stalks of rye, intended for bands, lying like victims already overpowered and waiting to be bound like captives.


(Calling from the open door)

You reapers, hey! ‘Tis time to come and eat!


(Shouting back)

I’ve finished mine, but Lukash doesn’t seem

To get along so fast.


I won’t be long.


Well, get done quick! Kilina, you can come.

Kilina goes into the house and the door closes behind her. Mavka comes out from underneath the birch.


(Somewhat confused at seeing her, but resuming his task immediately.)

Oh, so it’s you? Just finish up these sheaves

So I can go.


I don’t know how to bind.


Well, why did you come here to stand and look,

If you don’t want to help?

(He keeps on binding alone).


Oh, Lukash dear,

Don’t let that woman come here anymore.

I don’t like her… She’s vicious and she’s sly,

As otters are.


You don’t know her at all.


Oh yes, I do! I’ve heard her voice and laugh.


That’s not enough.


Nay, that is quite enough.

She’s avaricious, like the lynx.


Worse, eh?


She must not come into this grove again.


(Straightening up)

You seem to think that you’re the forest’s queen,

To say who shall or shall not walk about

Here in the woods.


(Sadly but menacingly)

Here in the forest there

Are certain pitfalls hidden in the brush,

Of which nor beasts nor humans are aware

Until they fall therein.


And yet you talk

Of viciousness and slyness – fie, for shame!

I didn’t know what your true nature was

Till now.


Maybe I knew it not myself…


Well, listen now: if it’s the case that I

Have got to ask you first who may come here

And who may not, ‘twill be the best for me

To leave this forest and go back to live

Amongst my fellows, where I’ll find a home.

‘Twould be far better than to stay with you

Like some trapped beast.


I never set a trap

For you. You came here of your own free will.


I’ll follow my free will where’er I wish.

I will be bound by nothing, by no one!


Whenever have I sought to fetter you?


Well, what’s the good of all this idle talk?

Having finished the last sheaf, and without looking at Mavka, he goes into the house. Mavka sits down in a furrow amongst the stubble, and lets her head droop in sad meditation.

Uncle Lev

(Coming from behind the house.)

What is the matter, maiden? Why so sad?


(Softly and sadly.)

The summer’s passing, Uncle Lev.

Uncle Lev

For you,

That’s certainly a grief. No longer can

You use the willow as your winter home.


Where then shall I find lodging?

Uncle Lev

As for me,

No house with you inside would be too cramped…

My sister has a nature hard to please;

No one can get along with her. If I

Were master here, I wouldn’t ask, but then,

I gave them ownership of house and land,

So I’ve no say. Myself, I’m leaving here

To winter in the village, in my home…

If you could stand it there amongst us folk,

I’d gladly take you in.


No, no, I can’t…

And if I could, I wouldn’t go. You’re good!

Uncle Lev

‘Tis bread alone that’s good, not humankind.

To tell the truth, I’m downright fond of all

You forest folk. When my time comes to die,

I, like the beasts, will come back to the woods –

Here, ‘neath this oak, let them lay me to rest…

Hey, good old oak! Will you be standing still

When my grey head shall bow itself at last?

Ah me! there never were such sturdy oaks

As those which were chopped down. As green as you,

Despite the frosts, my sturdy, shaggy friend…

(He stands, leaning sadly on his staff.)

Mavka gathers some half-withered flowers from among the harvested rye an makes them into a nosegay.

Out of the house come Mother.


(To Kilina)

Why must you go? Can you not stay a while?


O, not a moment more; I must be off.

You see, it’s getting late, and I’m afraid.


Why, Lukash, you could see her home?


Why not?


(Looking at him)

But he’s got work to do…


What sort of work,

Now evening’s come? Go on, my son, go on,

And take Kilina out unto the road.

Myself, I dread these dismal woods at night;

And such a handsome girl as she might meet

Some harm, who knows?


Oh now, you really do

Make me feel terrified to linger here!

Come on then, Lukash, ere it gets real dark,

Or both of us will be afraid.


Who, I?

Feel scary in the woods? Ha-ha, no fear!


He’s such a bold and enterprising youth.

Take care, Kilina, you watch out for him!


Oh, no, I’m joking…

(She notices Uncle Lev passing.)

Why, here’s Uncle Lev!

So you’re here too?

Uncle Lev

(Pretending not to have heard aright)

Eh? Oh, goodbye, goodbye!

(He goes off into the forest).


Now, Auntie, do take good care of yourself!

(She makes as if to kiss the older woman’s hand, but the latter does not extend it; instead, she wipes off her mouth with a corner of her apron and kisses Kilina three times, “with ceremony “).



Long life to you, and don’t forget us, too!


Don’t stay away, but come another day!

(She re-enters the house and fastens the door behind her.)

Mavka gets up and, walking slowly as though fatigued, goes towards the lake. Sitting down beside the sloping birch, she lets her head fall down between both hands and weeps softly. A drizzling rain begins to fall, dimming the outlines of glade, house, and forest.


(She comes swimming up to the shore and stops, gazing at Mavka in surprise and curiosity.)

You’re weeping, Mavka! Why?


And have you ne’er,

Rusalka, wept yourself?


What I? Why no!

If I should weep e’en for a moment’s space,

Someone would surely laugh himself to death!


But ah, Rusalka, you have never loved…


I’ve never loved? Nay, it is you who have

Forgotten now what real love ought to be.

Real love is like the water, rushing swift,

Which sports, caresses, draws one on, then drowns.

Where it strikes heat, it seethes; where it meets cold,

It turns dead, like a stone. So is my love!

But that of yours is like the brittle straw,

A puny child. It bends before the wind,

It cracks beneath the feet. It meets a spark

And flares without resistance, after which

There’s nothing left but cinders and dead ash.

If it’s despised, it lies and putrefies

Like unused straw that’s in the water thrown –

The water of vain self-reproach, or else

Turns mouldy ‘neath cold rains of penitence.


(Lifting up her head)

“Vain self-reproach” you say? Well, ask the birch

If she feels “penitence” for nights she spent

When spring’s light breezes in her tresses played

And sported with her.


Why then does she grieve?


Because she can her love no more embrace,

Clasp him eternally in her long arms.


Why not?


Her lover is the breeze of spring.


Why did she choose a lover such as that?


That breeze of spring was tender, gentle, mild.

It was his singing that brought out her leaves;

His fondling caused her glorious crown to spread,

And his caresses damped her hair with dew.

Yes, yes… it truly was the breeze of spring.

How could she help but love him and none else?


Well, she should cease her grieving now and let

It fall to earth, for she will not embrace

That breeze again… It’s fled away and gone.

(Quietly and without a splash she swims away and vanishes in the reeds).

Mavka lets her head fall down again till her long black tresses are touching the ground.

A strong wind springs up, driving grey clouds before it as well as black swarms of migrant birds which are flying south. After this there comes a still stronger blast of wind, the dark clouds drift asunder and the forest becomes visible in a vivid autumnal pattern against the dark blue of the sky, betokening thus the approaching end of the day.


(Softly and in deep sorrow)

“It’s fled away and gone…”

Forest Elf comes out of the thicket. He is wearing a long gown, the color of old gold, with a dark red fringe around the bottom, and round his cap are twined sprays of wild hops.

Forest Elf

My child, although

You have betrayed, do not so sorely grieve!


(Lifting up her head)

Betrayed? Why, whom have I betrayed?

Forest Elf


You gave up dwelling in the high tree tops

And came down low to walk in baser paths.

And now you’re like to some poor serving maid

Who, by the fruit of bitter toil, had hoped

A scrap of happiness to win. Then when

She’s found it all in vain, a sense of shame

Allows her not a beggar to become.

Remember what you were that night in spring,

When your life flowered into glorious bloom:

That night you seemed to be a Forest Queen,

A crown of stars upon your green-black hair.

Then eagerly did happiness stretch forth

Its hands and offered you its choicest gifts!


What shall I do now when those stars are gone,

Extinguished in my crown and in my heart?

Forest Elf

Not all the stars are faded out for you.

Behold, see what a festival is here!

The maple-prince has donned his golden robes,

The wild rose all her wealth of corals wears;

While innocence has changed to purple proud

Upon the cranberry, whose flowers you wore

When nightingales intoned your marriage song.

The ancient willow, e’en the mournful birch

Have put on gold and crimson, rich brocades,

For autumn’s festival. And you alone

Will not cast off that beggar’s garb of yours.

You seem to have forgotten that no grief

Should ever triumph over loveliness.


Then, grandsire, give to me my festal robes!

Once more I’ll queen it as the forest’s pride,

And happiness shall fall down at my feet,

Beseeching favors at my hand!

Forest Elf

My child,

Those robes were long since ready for the queen,

But she, capriciously, has tarried long

While wearing for a jest a beggar’s gown.

He throws back his gown and brings from underneath it a splendid crimson robe, embroidered with gold, together with a silvery veil. Mavka swiftly runs to the cranberry tree and breaks off some of its sprays covered with red berries and weaves herself a chap let. She then lets down her hair, places the chaplet on her head, and bows before Forest Elf who throws the silvery veil over her head.

Forest Elf

No longer now do I feel fear for you.

(Gravely nodding to Mavka, he swiftly skips off into the bushes and disappears. A moment later Will-o’-the-Wisp comes running out of the forest).


What! You again?

(She makes as if to flee.)



Fear not, I don’t seek you…

I came to see the sprite who’s in the rye,

But she’s already gone to sleep. Too bad…

You’re sadly wasted, too.



To you, it seems!


“It seems”, you say? Let me more closely look.

(He draws nearer, Mavka retreats.)

Why are you so afraid of me? I know

You are betrothed. I will not pester you.


Away! Hands off!


Now, don’t get so worked up…

Suppose I did wrong you?.. Now, Mavka, come

And make it up. Let us be friends.


With you?


Why not with me? We’re both in autumn now.

Don’t you perceive the sun is growing cold

And our blood’s running slow? There was a time

When we were good companions – whether then

We played or lovers were, ‘tis hard to say.

But now’s the time for brotherhood. Your hand!

Mavka, after a momentary hesitation, gives him her hand.

Permit me to bestow a brother kiss

On that pale face of yours.

(Mavka shrinks, but he kisses her all the same.)

O flowers on

That lovely face, again ye have bloomed out!

Autumnal, unexpected, and benign…

(Without releasing her hand he looks around the glade).

See the spider’s gossamer

Swings and spirals in the air…

And so do we…

(With a sudden movement he draws her into a dance.)

And so do we;

As swiftly swirling,

Circling free!

The stars that blaze,

Sun’s golden rays,

The clear and brilliant lights that daze

All that glitters,

All that flitters,

In one unceasing mad career!

And so do I…

And so do I…

Be like a spark, my love most dear!

He whirls furiously in the dance. Mavka’s silvery veil swirls up in the air like a glittering serpent, her black tresses, now madly dishevelled, intermingle with Will-o’-the-Wisp’s fiery red curls.


Enough! Enough, I say!


In unrestrained play

Stay not a moment doubtfully!

For happiness will cheat,

And only that is sweet

Which whirls and flies eternally!

The dance becomes delirious.

Let us whirl!

Let us whirl!

And like the whirlwind rise!

Let us know

Here below

A frenzied, fiery paradise!


Enough!.. Release me now… I faint… I swoon.

(Her head falls helplessly on his shoulder, her arms hang limply, but he carries her swooning along in the dance.)

Suddenly from under the earth, there rises a dark, bulky, awe-inspiring shape.


Release her. Render to me what is mine.


(Stops, letting Mavka fall out of his embrace. She sinks down helplessly on the ground.)

Ha, who are you?


Do you not know me then?

I’m “He Who Dwells in Rock”.

Will-o’-the-Wisp shudders, and with a swift turn, he dashes away and vanishes in the forest.

Mavka comes to herself and sitting up she opens her eyes wide and gazes with horror at the Phantom which is stretching out its hands to lay hold of her.


No, touch me not!

I do not wish to come! I’m still alive!

“He Who Dwells in Rock”

I come to lead you to a distant land,

An unknown land, where quiet waters dark

Serenely sleep in peace; where silent rocks

Hang over them and stare with clouded eyes,

Mute witnesses of what is past and gone.

‘Tis calm and tranquil there, for neither trees nor grass

E’er stir or murmur to bring on bad dreams –

Those treacherous dreams which always banish sleep.

And thither on the winds are borne no songs

Of freedoms unattainable; no fires

On altars e’er burn there. The lightning’s points

Are blunted on those rocks and never can

Pierce through to that stronghold of gloom and peace.

I’ll take you there. ‘Tis there that you belong.

The fire has made you pale, the movement weak;

Your happiness is but a shade – you’re dead.


No, I’m alive! I’ll live eternally!

I have that in my heart which cannot die!

“He Who Dwells in Rock”

By what are you so sure?


By this:

I love my pain, for I gave life to it.

If it were possible for me to wish

E’er to forget it, then I’d go with you;

But in this world there is no power so strong

That could e’en stir a longing to forget.

The sound of human footfalls is heard in the forest.

Lo, here he comes, the one who gave the pain!

Now vanish, Phantom, for here comes my life!

“He Who Dwells in Rock” retreats into the dark bushes and there waits in ambush. Lukash emerges out of the forest.

Mavka goes to meet Lukash. Her face with its deadly pallor stands out in contrast against her resplendent garments. Expiring hope distends her large dark eyes, her movements are convulsive and faltering as though something within her is giving way.


(On perceiving her.)

Oh, dreadful sight! What do you want with me?

(He rushes to the house and knocks on the door. His mother opens but remains standing within. Lukash on the threshold cries out.)

Hey, Mother, make the bridal loaf at once!

Tomorrow to Kilina I’ll send word!

(He enters and the door is shut behind him.)


(tears off her festive clothing)

Take me away! I wish now to forget…

“He Who Dwells in Rock” touches Mavka who with a cry falls into his hands. He casts the skirt of his black robe over her and both sink into the ground.