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Today Ukrainians Celebrate Taras Shevchenko

9. March 2010 by Michelle 0 Comments

Taras Shevchenko, self portrait as a soldier, 1847

Taras Shevchenko was born March 9, 1814 in the village of Moryntsi, modern day Cherkasy Oblast, Ukraine. Orphaned at age 11, he was taken in by local artists and mentors and traveled to St. Petersburg, Russia. His natural artistic talents were quickly revealed and he began attending various art schools.


In 1840 Shevchenko hit his stride and began receiving prestigious medals for his paintings and published his first collection of poetry titled Kozbar. Another renowned Ukrainian poet, Ivan Franko, remarked, “Kozbar immediately revealed, as it were, a new world of poetry. It burst forth like a spring of clear, cold water, and sparkled with a clarity, breadth and elegance of artistic expression not previously known in Ukrainian writing.”


Shevchenko started composing plays in addition to poems. Beginning in 1843, he made several trips back to Ukraine and was strongly impacted by the challenging life conditions in his homeland. He captured the historical ruins and cultural monuments in an album of etchings called Picturesque Ukraine. In 1845, Shevchenko was officially granted the title of an artist by the Council of the Academy of Arts.


However, once he began associating with a Ukrainian political society, he was arrested and sent to prison in St. Petersburg. He was exiled with the Russian military and forbidden to write or paint, but he still managed to produce drawings. After nearly 10 years of exile, Shevchenko was pardoned, and worked on more poetry and paintings in St. Petersburg until his death on March 10, 1861. He was buried at Smolensk Cemetery in St. Petersburg, but since he desired to be laid to rest in his native land, according to his poem Testament (Zapovit), he was transferred to Chernecha Hill by the Dniper River near Kaniv.


Along with many monuments in his honor, Shevchenko has been memorialized in many other ways. The Kiev University shares his name, as well as the Kiev Metro Station. Museums, streets, and libraries with his name all around Russia and beyond show just how important his life and works were to the world. A solemn rally was held today near his monument in Kiev and was attended by President Viktor Yanukovich, Yulia Tymoshenko, and many others.


Kiev, Ukraine

Shevchenko Monument in Kiev, Ukraine

Kharkiv, Ukraine

Shevchenko Monument in Kharkiv, Ukraine

Lviv, Ukraine

Shevchenko Monument in Lviv, Ukraine

Budapest, Hungary

Shevchenko Monument in Budapest, Hungary

Moscow, Russia

Shevchenko Monument in Moscow, Russia

Washington D.C., United States

Shevchenko Monument in Washington D.C., United States

Tashkent, Uzbekistan

Shevchenko Monument in Tashkent, Uzbekistan

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Shevchenko Monument in Buenos Aires, Argentina


Click here to read some of Shevchenko's poetry translated in English.