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Taras Shevchenko.  In Cherkassy. Pencil, pen and India ink.1859. (Тарас Шевченко. В Черкасах. Олівець, туш, перо.1859)Taras Shevchenko
"O my thoughts, my heartfelt thoughts" 
"Dumy moji, dumy moji, / Lykho meni z vamy!"
("Думи мої, думи мої, / Лихо мені з вами!")
1840, St.- Petersburg (C.- Петербург)

Translated by Vera Rich

Taras Shevchenko' poem
"Prychynna" / "Reve ta stohne Dnipr shyrokyi"
("Причинна" / "Реве та стогне Дніпр широкий")
1837, S.- Petersburg, (C. - Петербург)

Song out of darkness by Vera Rich, title page


Taras Shevchenko's poem. The Monk. Translated by Alexander Jardine Hunter.Taras Shevchenko's poem "The Monk"
"Chernecj" / "U Kyjevi na Podoli Bulo kolysj..."
("Чернець" / "У Києві на Подолі Було колись...")
1848, Orsjka fortecja (Орська фортеця)

Translated by Alexander Jardine Hunter

Taras Shevchenko, The Kobzar of the Ukraine, English translation by Alexander Jardine Hunter, Front cover

"The Kobzar of the Ukraine". Being select Poems of Taras Shevchenko. Done into English Verse with Biographical Fragments by Alexander Jardine Hunter.


Martin Dowle, British Council(News archive: 09 March 2014)
The British Council joined representatives of France, Japan, Germany and Poland in a cultural celebration of the poetry of Taras Shevchenko in front of a packed audience at the Maidan in Kyiv on Sunday 09 March. British Council Director, Martin Dowle, read an English translation of “If it does not touch me” (Мені однаково, чи буду), translated by one of the key translators of Taras Shevchenko’s work, Vera Rich, in 1961.

The first Shevchenko's kobzar, 1840

On February 12 (old style) 1840 the Russian censor in St Petersburg, Petr Korsakov (1790 - 1844) gave permission to publish a small book of poetry by an unknown Ukrainian poet, Taras Shevchenko.


Taras Shevchenko Memorial in Washington, D.C.From news archive: 29 June 2014

Fifty years ago, on June 27, 1964, the American Capital inaugurated a monument to Taras Hryhorovych Shevchenko, outstanding Ukrainian poet, philosopher, artist and outstanding personality, who entered the global pantheon of cultural heritage.

Taras Shevchenko. Works. Volume 12. Shevchenko's poetry in translations. Title page."Taras Shevchenko. Works. Volume 12. Shevchenko's poetry in translations."

Title page.

Songs of Ukraina, with Ruthenian poems, 1916, translated by Florence  Livesay, title page"Songs of Ukraina, with Ruthenian poems", London, Paris, Toronto, New York, 1916. Translated by Florence Randal Livesay. Title page of the book.

Taras Shevchenko. Poplar, 1839
Taras Shevchenko, "Poplar", 1839

Taras Shevchenko
"Topolja" / "Po dibrovi viter vyje"
("Тополя" / "По діброві вітер виє" )
1839, S.- Petersburg, (C. - Петербург)


T.Shevchenko.Self-portrait.Nizhny Novgorod,1857
T. Shevchenko.
Nizhny Novgorod,1857"

Shevchenko was free again, and on August 2, in a fishing boat, he sailed across the Caspian to Astrakhan, which he reached three days later. On August 23, after nearly three weeks in that unattractive city, where he visited many of the friends he had known in Kiev, he sailed on a steamship up the Volga to Nizhni Novgorod. On the way he visited Saratov, Samara, and Kazan. When on September 20 he reached his destination, the police presented him with an order from Uskov to return to Orenburg, for, according to the latest official communication which Uskov received shortly after Shevchenko had left, the poet was not to return to St. Petersburg or to Moscow but was to wait in Orenburg for further instructions as to where he was to go. The difficulty was overcome by his friends in Nizhni Novgorod who advised him to simulate an illness.

Taras Shevchenko. Self-portrait 1853
Taras Shevchenko,

The worst period of his life had begun. He arrived there with a band of political "criminals" to whom all correspondence was forbidden. After two and a half years of freedom from military training, he was again subjected to it. He was placed under the supervision of a coarse, brow-beating captain, Potapov, who mocked, drilled, and disciplined him mercilessly and almost each day searched his pockets to see if he had written anything. But an even greater curse than this beastly creature was the bleak environment of sandy, marshy, rocky tracts. With the exception of the Bible, he had no books to read.

Taras Shevchenko, Self-portrait 1850
Taras Shevchenko,

At that time Shevchenko lived at the home of Captain K. Gem, who was attached to the Governors suite. It was actually through the good offices of his host that the poet enjoyed the benevolence of the Governor. However, he was not one to let well enough alone. For some time he noticed that a certain lieutenant, M. Isayev, was paying intimate visits to Gern's wife. When the matter became clear to him beyond any shadow of doubt, Shevchenko, outraged at such an injury to his benefactor, brought Gern home to reveal to him the flagrant misdeed. To revenge himself on the delator, the very next day Isayev reported to Governor Obruchev that Shevchenko, contrary to the prohibition, wore civilian clothes, lived outside the military quarters, wrote verses, and painted. All that was perfectly well known to Obruchev, but, although he would have preferred to let the matter rest there, now that it was made public, he dared not for fear that Isayev might report on his lenience to the authorities at St. Petersburg. He therefore ordered a search of Shevchenko's apartment.

Taras Shevchenko. Self-portrait, 1849
Taras Shevchenko.
"Self-portrait, 1849"

In the spring of 1848, the government organized an expedition under Captain O. Butakov to study the as yet unexplored Aral Sea, its depths and coastline, writh a view to the advisability of building fortifications upon its shores for further imperialist expansion in the direction of Afghanistan. The expedition needed an experienced draughtsman to sketch the salient places where fortresses might be constructed. And so, at Butakov's instance and after investigating Shevchenko's behaviour, the military authorities at Orenburg decided to appoint him to that task, although no permission had as yet arrived from St. Petersburg to free him from the curtailment of drawing and painting. On May 9 Shevchenko received instructions from Orenburg that he was being relieved from the regiment at Orsk and attached to the expeditionary battalion, with the right to draw and sketch anything that was considered necessary. Although, according to those who had lived in the Aral region, life at Orsk was an Eden in comparison, Shevchenko felt a sense of relief. The next day he was on the way to his new destination.

Sofiia Karaffy-Korbut,
Taras Shevchenko

"Dumka" / "Nashcho meni chorni brovy"
("Думка" / "Нащо мені чорні брови")
1839, S.- Petersburg, (C. - Петербург)

Sofiia Karaffy-Korbut,
"Nashcho meni chorni brovy..."


Gregory Kovalenko, Portrait Kotliarevsky (1)Taras Shevchenko
"Na vichnu pamiat Kotliarevskomu"
("На вічну пам'ять Котляревському" )
1838, S.- Petersburg, (C. - Петербург)





Hryhorii Kovalenko,
Portrait of Ivan Kotliarevsky

Taras Shevchenko's life and work
Kornylo Ustyianovych,
"Shevchenko in Exile
(early 1890s)"

To relieve his plight, Shevchenko's friends helped him as much as they could with books, money, and other gifts. Of particular satisfaction to the poet was the receipt of Shakespeare's translated works and an entire painting gear. The Bible continued to be his constant companion, and from it he drew what consolation he needed. While in the Fortress of Orsk, Shevchenko experienced the soothing power of prayer and felt alleviation on meditating Christ's call: “Come to me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” I his he confessed in some of the letters to his friends. Of great balm to kim also was Thomas a Kempis's Imitation of Christ. Although strictly forbidden to write, Shevchenko nevertheless found surreptitious occasions to do so, especially when all in the barracks were asleep; but, as he relates in his “To A. Y. Kozachkovsky,” it was “like a thief” that he went about it. Whatever he wrote he recopied in minuscule script and hid it in the leggings of his military boots.

Taras Shevchenko. Catholic church in Kyiv
Taras Shevchenko.
"Catholic church in Kyiv

Shevchenko was arrested on the Kiev bank of the Dnieper (on April 5, 1847) as he stepped down on dry land from a ferry. In his baggage the police found, in addition to paintings and sketches, a number of personal letters considered subversive in character and, above all, a copy of the manuscript “The Three Years,” containing the already mentioned illegal and incriminatory poems. All this evidence was sent to St. Petersburg. After spending one night in a Kiev prison, Shevchenko was transported under police escort to the Russian capital, which he reached eleven days later. His comrades in the accusation had been imprisoned there several days earlier, Kulish having been arrested while actually on his way abroad to continue his studies in preparation for a professorship.

Taras Shevchenko. Self-portrait, Yagotin, 1843
Taras Shevchenko,
"Self-portrait, Yagotin,

In this period of his life, marked by his chief political poems written since 1843, and by the furtherance of the ideals expressed in them, Taras Shevchenko from a mere national bard assumed the stature of a national oracle, a seer of his country's future, a luminary of the first magnitude whose like Ukraine had never seen before. Occasionally he would meet Kostomariv and the other Brothers at the apartment of M. Hulak, where they discussed matters pertaining to the Slavic world. Little did they suspect that one O. Petrov, a student and a spy, was listening to their arguments behind the thin partition separating Hulak's and Petrov's living quarters. It was this student who kept the Russian authorities informed of the activities of the organization and whose final testimony led to the arrest of its adherents.

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