The Poet of Ukraine - Taras Shevchenko - Paperback

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Blurb: “The Poet of Ukraine is a selection of poems written by Ukraine's most beloved literary figure, Taras Shevchenko. This compilation features a full biography, as well as, historical and political contextual commentary for each of the thirty-one selected poems, including:

  • The Complete Kobzar
  • Prelude to Haydamaki
  • The Dream
  • The Great Grave
  • Hamaliya
  • The Caucasus
  • Mary

Taras Shevchenko is the poet of Ukraine. There is hardly a Ukrainian home from the humblest to the richest that does not contain a portrait of the poet who during his short life touched every chord of the Ukrainian heart. He shared the fortunes of his people and during his unhappy life he suffered all the hardships of serfdom, of exile, of police supervision that was the fate of the greater part of his compatriots. Seldom has a poet lived and suffered to the full as did Shevchenko and rarely has a man so fully incorporated all the aspirations of his people.

That is not all. As an artist and a thinker Shevchenko deserves the sympathetic knowledge and understanding of the entire civilized and democratic world. He deserves it as the representative of his people, a nation of forty millions who have so far failed to receive that independence for which they have long struggled. He deserves it also for himself, for his own writings, since it can be truly said that he is one of those men who have a message for all humanity, for the suffering and the downtrodden, the victims of injustice and oppression every where.

It is the object of this book to make available in English translation some of the masterpieces of this poet whose works have lived for a century with an ever widening influence and an ever increasing appreciation of his genius both at home and abroad. It has been a strange fate that has confined knowledge of his works to some scanty references in books on literature, while lesser men in other languages have received fantastic praises. Such was fate. In his lifetime many of the most penetrating critics in Russia saw fit to place him above Pushkin and Mickiewicz for his mastery of language and for the depth and sincerity of his ideas. Yet they were in the minority, for the vast multitudes were only inclined to see in him a young serf writing in his native language and they passed him by with a shrug of the shoulders.

He formed part of that great flowering of poetry which commenced with the period of Romanticism in Europe and he was one of those men who passed by a natural evolution to the great period of realism and of sensitiveness to the social problems of the day. Now in the twentieth century we are learning as never before to judge him for himself, as a flowering of the Ukrainian character and as a man who has a message not only for his own times and country but for the entire world. He has stood the test of time and he deserves due recognition in these days when the entire world is sunk in war and desolation.

There can be no doubt today that Taras Shevchenko is one of the great Slavonic poets. He is one of the great poets of the nineteenth century without regard to nationality or language and his fearless appeal to right and truth and justice speaks as eloquently in the New World as it did in the Old or in the little village where he was born, the city to which he was taken or the treeless steppes to which he was exiled.”