Helena Arnold: ‘Starvation Song’

Helena Arnold reading ‘Starvation Song’

I saw a farmer
open his door to emaciated souls
sharing his last few potatoes
within weeks he died

Голодовка, Голодовка
усюди роздутий люди

I saw my friend
refuse to steal food
from unsuspecting people
within days he died

Голодовка, Голодовка
усюди роздутий люди

I saw my sister
prostitute herself for food
to feed us
she did not die

Голодовка, Голодовка
усюди роздутий люди

I saw orphan children
roaming in packs
looking for victims
they ate human flesh

Голодовка, Голодовка
усюди роздутий люди

I saw my emaciated school friend
desperate and hungry
caught cooking her husband’s dead hands
imprisoned and sent to Siberia

Голодовка, Голодовка
усюди роздутий люди

I saw the look of madness
in the eyes and faces of my neighbours
hope lost
they became the walking dead

Голодовка, Голодовка
усюди роздутий люди

вмирают, вмирают,
вмирают, вмирают

I saw my Ukraine
in the depths of the Soviet genocide

Famine 1932
усюди роздутий люди

вмирают, вмирают,
my parents, my family
my friends, my neighbours
три мільйони мертвий


Glossary with Transliteration

Голодовка, Голодовка – Holodovka, Holodovka: famine, famine
усюди роздутий люди – usyudy rozdutyy lyudy: everywhere swollen people
вмирают, вмирают, – vmyrayut, vmyrayut – dying, dying
три мільйони мертвий – try milʹyony mertvyy – three million dead


Helena Arnold uses a diverse range of styles which incorporate biography, memory, family and twentieth-century history. She writes about grief and intergenerational trauma.

Helena was born in Germany to two Ukrainian post-war immigrants. She pursued a career in visual arts as a painter which informs her writing. This is evident in her painterly writing style.

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