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- March 9, 2014 at 7:57 pm #346381
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has proclaimed 2014 a "Year of Shevchenko" and invited the world to celebrate this eminent Ukrainian poet and artist's 200th birthday, which takes place today, Sunday, March 9th.
One of my favorite Shevchenko poems is this one, and I find its words timely, considering current events in Ukraine:
It Makes No Difference To Me
It makes no difference to me,
If I shall live or not in Ukraine
Or whether any one shall think
Of me 'mid foreign snow and rain.
It makes no difference to me.
In slavery I grew 'mid strangers,
Unwept by any kin of mine;
In slavery I now will die
And vanish without any sign.
I shall not leave the slightest trace
Upon our glorious Ukraine,
Our land, but not as ours known.
No father will remind his son
Or say to him, "Repeat one prayer,
One prayer for him; for our Ukraine
They tortured him in their foul lair."
It makes no difference to me,
If that son says a prayer or not.
It makes great difference to me
That evil folk and wicked men
Attack our Ukraine, once so free,
And rob and plunder it at will.
That makes great difference to me.
–St. Petersburg Citadel Prison May, 1847
Kyvians celebrating Shevchenko's birthday this weekend.
On March 9, Ukraine celebrates the 200th anniversary of the birth of Taras Shevchenko, Ukraine’s most praised poet whose life and legacy are especially valued for the spirit of freedom that he put in his poems.
Shevchenko lived only 47 years. The first 24 years he spent as a serf and last 10 years he lived in exile, punished by Russian emperor Nicholas I for participating in a secret political organization. While Shevchenko’s works as poet and artist are widely known, his personality is still full of myths and legends. The Kyiv Post presents some of the most interesting and little-known facts about Shevchenko.
Not such an atheist after all. Shevchenko was often claimed to be an atheist, especially by researchers in the 20th century. However, other researchers found that the word “God” was used 600 times in Kobzar, Shevchenko’s most famous book of poems.
Womanizer. Shevchenko’s private life was rather active and full of promiscuous love affairs. The poet of peasant origin, he was often attracted to young noble girls. Russian princess and writer Varvara Repnina fell in love with the poet, but he treated her as close friend only. Shevchenko often called her a “kind angel” in his letters. However, he never returned her love.
Affair with teenager. The youngest of Shevchenko’s girlfriends was 16-year-old actress Kateryna Pionova. It came as no surprise that the parents of the girl were against their marriage because of Shevchenko’s age – he was 44 then.
Paintings before poetry. More than 1,300 paintings – this is the number of portraits, copper plates, landscape pictures, crayon engravings that Shevchenko made during his life. The number of the poems he wrote is between 200 and 300. His artist works paid his bills and were appreciated by his contemporaries, but it was poetry that put Shevchenko in history.
Dumplings lover. Pelmeni (Russian meat dumplings) and varenyky (Ukrainian dumplings with fruit or other fillings) were Shevchenko’s most favorite food.
Wrote about peasants, lived like patrician. Born in a serf’s family in Moryntsi village (contemporary Cherkasy Oblast in Ukraine), Shevchenko spent several years of his life in the Russian empire’s capital of St. Petersburg in 1858-1861. There he became an anticipated guest in the houses of Russian artists, writers and other famous people. Researchers found out that Shevchenko was a real dandy. The poet who is usually remembered wearing a Cossack hat and rough coat (after Shevchenko’s look at one of his portraits), used to walk St. Petersburg streets wearing posh three-piece white ensemble.
Love at a distance. While all his poetry featured Ukraine and Ukrainian people, Shevchenko spent only some 2.5 years of his mature life in his native Ukraine. He left the country, than a part of Russian Empire, in the age of 15 years, according to Vadym Skurativskiy, one of the most famous Shevchenko researcher. His life passed in St. Petersburg, Moscow, Lithuania and even Kazakhstan. He traveled to Ukraine several times, each trip lasting several months.March 9, 2014 at 8:00 pm #429834
Happy BD,Taras,and let us hope there is no blood in Ukraine's wells..
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