Ukrainian writer Shevchenko once defended the idea of an independent Ukraine
Ukrainian humanist, poet and painter Taras Hryhorovych Shevchenko (1814-1861) once advocated and defended the idea of Ukraine’s independence. The Dignity Revolution of 2014 was inspired by his poetry and overall creativity. The literary work of this Ukrainian writer was a revival in Ukrainian literature, so Shevchenko is central and one of the most important figures of Ukrainian literature and cultural creativity.
In his works, Shevchenko deals with the difficult situation of the Ukrainian peasant, the longing for happy homeland days, the desire and hope for the social and national liberation of Ukraine. He wrote wonderful songs that his friends published in 1840 in a collection called “Kobzar” (kobzar is a player of the Ukrainian folk string folk instrument-kobza).
In 1841, Shevchenko published the poem “Gajdamaki” in which he described the cow duel of the Ukrainians against the Polish nobility. He was soon invited by many noble births, proposing further education in Italy. Shevchenko refuses kind advice and resolutely returns to his native Ukraine (where his brothers and sisters are still slaves in noble families). With his arrival in Ukraine, Shevchenko is deeply shaken by the images of the hard life of his compatriots. He became a member of the Slavophile Cyril and Methodius Society during his stay in Ukraine. He advocates equality and freedom for all Slavic peoples. Members of the Society, including Shevchenko, are arrested and expelled after a secret tip-off. He is pardoned after 10 years on the condition that he does not return to Ukraine and St. Petersburg. Shevchenko spends the last days of his life writing and painting. He had a desire to live on a hill with a beautiful view of the Dnieper River. He did not experience the fulfillment of a dream. Shevchenko died in 1861. He was originally buried in St. Petersburg and then his remains were transferred to Ukraine at his own request (described in the song “Testament”). He was buried on Monastic Mountain (Ukrainian Chernecha Gora) on a hill above the Dnieper River not far from Kiev. The great monument to Taras Shevchenko is also a place of constant pilgrimage to visits his grave. The days of Taras Shevchenko’s birth and death (March 9 and 10) became the days of the national gathering of Ukrainians around the world. The year 1861, when this great Ukrainian poet died, coincides with the year of the official abolition of slavery, which the people understand as the grace and legacy of the writer realized by his martyrdom.
Taras Shevchenko was born as a serf who really wanted to enroll in the Academy. Nine-year-old Taras is left without a mother and 2 years later without a father. He received his primary education in a village school serving as a deacon. There he discovers a penchant for painting. Shevchenko “belonged” to the Ukrainian potentate (spahi) Engelgardt, who reveals his gift for painting. Engelhardt pays for the education of young Taras (wishing to have his own court painter), first in Vilnius and then in St. Peters burg.
Taras Shevchenko completely fits the stereotype of the “father of the modern nation” with his character and work. He also acquires the status of a “national prophet” by the fact that his work (in the conditions of an unstructured Ukrainian society) took over the poetic function of patriotic awakening, creating a new national myth. Ukrainians symbolically see the historical development of Ukraine in the fate of the poet Shevchenko. The middle of the 19th century is the period in which Taras Shevchenko wrote and created and the period of the disintegration of the feudal system. The basis of Taras Shevchenko’s poetic and other opus is the feudal system, that is, the period of oppression of peasants who were without any human rights. There is a close connection between the struggle for liberation from slavery and the struggle for national liberation. Shevchenko has always defended the idea of an independent Ukraine and fought against the Russification of the Ukrainian language.
The National University of Kiev is named after Taras Shevchenko.