Almost every nation has a revolutionary poet who belonged to the poorest section of society and whose passionate poetry sounded like a voice of the whole nation. Ukraine is no exception. Every Ukrainian is familiar with Taras Shevchenko‘s ‘Testament’:
When I am dead, bury me
In my beloved Ukraine,
My tomb upon a grave mound high
Amid the spreading plain,
So that the fields, the boundless steppes,
The Dnieper’s plunging shore
My eyes could see, my ears could hear
The mighty river roar.
When from Ukraine the Dnieper bears
Into the deep blue sea
The blood of foes … then will I leave
These hills and fertile fields —
I’ll leave them all and fly away
To the abode of God,
And then I’ll pray …. But until that day
I nothing know of God.
Oh bury me, then rise ye up
And break your heavy chains
And water with the tyrants’ blood
The freedom you have gained.
And in the great new family,
The family of the free,
With softly spoken, kindly word
Remember also me.
— Taras Shevchenko,
25 December 1845,
Translated by John Weir, Toronto, 1961
Some years ago I happened to visit Taras Shevchenko museum in his native place – a small village in central Ukraine. It was an interesting experience, though not from the point of view of the poet’s life. His manuscripts and paintings are carefully kept in larger museums of Kiev. But this place had a nice collection of exhibits representing everyday life of the 19th century. I enjoyed exploring them – after visiting Pirogovo open air museum , I felt like traveling into the Ukrainian past one more time.
This is the house where the poet was born in 1914 and where he spent the early years of his life. It gives an idea how the poorest families of my country used to live. The house is protected by the glass case.
Here you can see some examples of a traditional Ukrainian embroidery. At this photo it’s solely red, but usually it represents a combination of two colors – red and black (love and sorrow).
I always wanted an embroidered shirt, they are not outdated even now.
These are some traditional necklaces Shevchenko’s sister wore for her wedding.
Books were mostly religious, and the icons were usually put on the best and most visible place in the house.
And of course, there are always flowers around Ukrainian village houses! 🙂
And here is Moryntsi village on the map: