The Golden Hum by Pavlo Tychyna includes the following:

:we'll grow tall! said the poplars.
:we'll burst into song! said the flowers.
:we'll overflow: said Old Man Dnipro.
The poplars, flowers, and Dnipro.

Dnipro is a river that goes through Ukraine and Belarus, but it seems like it's a singular entity (both in "real life" and in the poem). That being said, why does Dnipro refer to itself in the plural here? Is it just for consistency with the previous lines?


1 Answer 1


The original text reads:

: виростем! — сказали тополі.
: бризнем піснями — сказали квіти.
: розіллємось! — сказав Дніпро.
Тополі, квіти, і Дніпро.

On the first two lines, the verbs (виростем, бризнем) are future imperfective forms. The third line though, розіллємось is not a form I can find in any conjugation charts¹. I suspect that it’s a coinage of Tychyna’s, although maybe someone who is a Ukrainian speaker can elucidate. Google translate offers a translation of “let’s spill”, treating the form as a first person plural imperative and that makes sense in the context of the whole stanza, and it seems reasonable to interpret the stanza as Dnipro² and the others not only referring to themselves, but to those surrounding them, so it’s not that the Dnipro is referring to itself in the plural, but rather that he’s inviting the poplars and flowers to overflow (metaphorically) along with him, much as the flowers are inviting the poplars and Dnipro to burst into song and the poplars are inviting the flowers and Dnipro to grow tall, each expressing their enthusiasm in their own way.

  1. And a Google search for розіллємось mostly turns up Tychyna’s poem!

  2. The “old man” before Dnipro is an invention of the translator, by the way.

  • Makes sense. First person plural imperative is often hard to translate into English, from languages where there's an actual conjugation for that rather than just "Let's ..."
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Sep 15, 2022 at 17:05

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.