Poem “Through the Eyes of a Child”


Poetry is another form of literature that could be used to describe the Holodomor to children. This poem was written by Halia Dmytryshyn. It is a narrative of events leading to, during and after the Holodomor. The inspiration for this poem is a series of drawings done by schoolchildren, Grades 5 and 6.

Through the Eyes of a Child

Halia Dmytryshyn

In the 1920s, 1930s, the people of Ukraine,

Lived north of the Black Sea, on beautiful terrain,

in villages, cities, towns and farms

Trees and flowers grew all around.

The people were hardworking and strong,

Proud of their heritage and bountiful land,

And dearly yearned someday to see their beloved country, Ukraine,

Independent and free!

The people were content, to live their lives as God had meant,

To tend their families, homes, animals and farms,

To pray to God and go to church

To celebrate traditional feasts

To laugh and dance and sing their songs.

And blessed with land rich in minerals and good soil,

Ukrainians lived life filled with hard work and fruitful-toil.

Their fields were vast and ripe with wheat,

The land was rich, black soil ran deep.

They grew all manner of food to eat.

Cabbages, fruit, berries and beets.

Sunflowers, turnips, grain and seeds.

And everyone in Europe knew

That in Ukraine’s Bread Basket grew:

The richest grain and golden wheat,

That weaved and danced upon the wind,

And pushed its stalks toward the sun.

Baskets were filled and stored away,

Food would be needed each wintry day.

At Harvest’s end, the people prayed to

Thank God for all that He gave.

They also prayed in the dark of night,

That no one come to take away,

That which belonged to them, each day.

But in their hearts, Ukrainians knew,

The enemy, not far away was coming closer everyday.

The communists from Russian lands formed into dangerous bands

They came to force all farmers to forfeit their land and join collective farms.

With guns in hand – the enemy came,

In trucks and tanks, on horses too,

In wagons, trains and on foot

By threat of force they swarmed the land.

And took away all food and grain,

Till only stalks, husks, and empty fields remained.

The people knew not where to turn,

As hunger took its terrible toll.

Day by day the sadness grew,

The sorrow, fear and despair

They felt was beyond all words to tell.

Mothers held their children’s heads and

Pressed them close upon their hearts

To hush their cries – they had not milk or food to give

And many died upon their beds.

People searched and hunted for food

Through meadows, woods and fields,

They took whatever they could find to eat,

leaves, seeds, grass, even tiny birds.

But as time went by,

No matter what they did, However hard they looked and searched,

All their precious food was gone.

Still, people prayed upon their knees,

And asked for help in their great need.

Candles lit in the dark of the night,

They begged for help in their desperate plight.

But no help came from near or far,

And it soon became very clear,

Roaming the land like ravaging wolves,

The horror of Famine was here.

Over the land, all you saw,

Were bloated bodies, lying there,

Starving children and people dying,

Death’s “Grim Reaper” hovered everywhere.

The land which once was golden and bright,

Turned into darkness overnight.

Ravaged by crops torn out of the ground,

Tears, mingled with blood to stain it brown.

All across Eastern Ukraine,

Crosses and graves covered the terrain.

Death didn’t care if you were big or small,

Bodies lay dead where they fell,

Few were left to mourn them all.

After the ruthless communists came,

Millions of people died in Ukraine.

Borders were sealed as though with a shroud,

Help for Ukraine would not be allowed.

No nation would answer her plea,

The world would not know or see,

The Hunger and Genocide brought to be,

By the Communist forces in 1933.






[Excerpt From Holodomor in Ukraine, The Genocidal Famine 1932-33: Teaching Materials for Teachers and Students

– By Valentina Kuryliw]