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Helen Mirren Recites Poem at London Ukraine Vigil

Dame Helen Mirren became tearful as she recited a poem at a London vigil on February 23 to mark the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Footage by Paul Higgins shows the actress addressing the crowd at Trafalgar Square. Mirren recited an English version of the Ukrainian poem “Take Only What Is Most Important”, by Serhiy Zhadan.

The evening also saw a performance from Ukrainian singer Jamala, while UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace also spoke. Credit: Paul Higgins via Storyful

Video transcript

HELEN MIRREN: Can you hear me OK?

- Yes. HELEN MIRREN: Good. I know there was a little bit of a problem earlier, but I think they've sorted that one out. It's fantastic to see you all here tonight on a-- let's hope the rain stays off our heads. But even if it [? pours, ?] it's just great to see you.

This poem is by Serhiy Zhadan-- "Take Only What Is Most Important." Take only what is most important. Take the letters. Take only what you can carry.

Take the icons and the embroidery. Take the silver. Take the wooden crucifix and the golden replicas. Take some bread, the vegetables from the garden-- then leave. We will never return again.

Can you hear me OK?

- Yes

HELEN MIRREN: Good. I know there was a little bit of a problem earlier, but I think they've sorted that one out. It's fantastic to see you all here tonight on a-- let's hope the rain stays off our heads. But even if it [? pours, ?] it's just great to see you.

This poem is by Serhiy Zhadan-- "Take Only What Is Most Important." Take only what is most important. Take the letters. Take only what you can carry.

Take the icons and the embroidery. Take the silver. Take the wooden crucifix and the golden replicas. Take some bread, the vegetables from the garden-- then leave. We will never return again.