The Volokh Conspiracy

Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent

Ukraine War Music

"Ukraine, Mama"


Here's a song I much liked; Dayana Kulbida, who seems to have written and performed it, doesn't appear to be a professional singer, but I thought it was very well executed, and I even liked the very simple video (I rarely like videos). You can read an English translation of the lyrics below (thanks to my mother, Anne Volokh), though as usual it can't capture the true effect of the original.

Where is my body?
I fall into the abyss
The darkness envelops
and asks me no questions;
What is your name?
Whose eyes do you have?
Did you like cobblestones?
Did you have a cat?
How to sleep in the bathroom?
And how in the hallway?
How to rescue not things, but a dog?
Was February cold?
So cold that on the skin
It left a note,

Mama, mama, the whole land is in the hands of your son
Mama, mama, and in my veins there are both Azov and steel
Mama, mama, she's not dead already and will never die, my Ukraine
We'll believe, mama
We'll fight, mama
We'll live, mama
Ukraine, mama

You loved the wind,
You held the hand
Of the one who was running away
From death together with you
Waited for the summer
To go to the mountains and higher,
Bruise your knees and then fly
You wanted to go to the sea
So the waves and the silence
And a home you would have,
But you would have no fear
And a warm pillow at home
Your teapot and books
And the soul of your nearest
Embracing you


Darkness, tell me,
Why are you destroying?
The grass is beautiful
When it's green,
Not black
Did the child's pigtails
Bother you?
Or Uncle Valery's
Left leg?
Why is there oxygen
But nothing to breathe?
Why were there three brothers
And now there are two?
And how to forget
My family's faces?
And how to remove "Mother"
From my address book?


Mama, mama, I will never forget your son
Mama, mama, all the sons and daughters, their steel
Mama, mama,- we're all together
And Ukraine will never die
We'll believe, mama
We'll fight, mama
We'll live, mama
Ukraine, mama

(We translated "мам," which is "мама" in the vocative—Ukrainian retains this special case for when you are addressing someone—as "mama" rather than the more formal "mother" or the more casual "mom.")

By the way, it just recently struck me that Russians and Ukrainians make a big thing of their nation as their mother (though at least in Russian, it's also sometimes the fatherland, "отечество")l but Americans, to my knowledge, don't. We love our country, but to think of it as "Mother America" or even the land that birthed us (analogously to the Russian "родина") strikes me as quite alien to most Americans.

Am I mistaken on this? If I'm right, does it stem from many Americans' sense that this is in large part a nation of immigrants and of the descendants of fairly recent immigrants?

Or is it something else? Do other countries follow the Russian/Ukrainian "our mother" (or sometimes "our fatherland") approach, or the American approach? The Germans famously spoke of the "Vaterland," and in France La Marseillaise refers to "la patrie," but I'm not sure how alive those terms are today, and whether the link between "patrie" and "père" (father) remains vivid or is as archaic as between "patriot" and "father." Inquiring minds want to know.