The Kobzar of Ukraine
Taras Shevchenko
1:37 h Verse Lvl 7 54.7 mb
Kobzar (Ukrainian: Кобзар, "The bard"), is a book of poems by Ukrainian poet and painter Taras Shevchenko, first published by him in 1840 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Taras Shevchenko was nicknamed The Kobzar after the publishing of this book. From that time on this title has been applied to Shevchenko's poetry in general and acquired a symbolic meaning of the Ukrainian national and literary revival. This book is a 1922 English translation by A. J. Hunter.

The Kobzar of Ukraine

Being Select Poems of Taras Shevchenko

Done into English Verse with Biographical
Fragments by
Alexander Jardine Hunter

Taras ShevchenkoTaras Shevchenko


Nearly twenty years ago the translator of these poems was sent by the Presbyterian church as a medical missionary to a newly settled district in Manitoba. A very large proportion of the incoming settlers in this district were Ukrainians, indeed it was largely owing to the interest taken in these newcomers that the writer was sent there.

It was Mr. John Bodrug who first introduced him to the study of the poems of Shevchenko and with his help translations of three or four of the poems were made a dozen years ago. Press of other work prevented the following up of this study till last summer when with the help of Mr. Sigmund Bychinsky translations were made of the other poems here given, and considerable time spent in arriving at an understanding of the spirit of the poems and the nature of the situations described. Then the more formidable task was approached of trying to carry over not only the thought but something of the style, spirit and music of the original into the English tongue.

The spirit of Shevchenko was too independent to suffer him to be much bound by narrow rules of metre and rhyme. The translator has found the same attitude convenient, for when the versification may be varied as desired it is much easier to preserve the original thoughts intact.

The writer’s thanks are due for help and advice to Messrs. Arsenych, Woicenko, Rudacheck, Ferley, Sluzar and Stechyshyn and especially to Mrs. Bychinsky and for help with the manuscript to Miss Sara Livingstone.

A. J. H.

The Kobzar of Ukraine

Who Was Taras Shevchenko?

How many English-speaking people have heard of Taras Shevchenko?

What “Uncle Tom’s Cabin’’ did for the negroes of the United States of America the poems of Shevchenko did for the serfs of Russia. They aroused the conscience of the Russian people, and the persecutions suffered by the poet at the hands of the autocracy awakened their sympathy.

It was two days after the death of Shevchenko that the czar’s ukase appeared granting freedom to the serfs. Possibly the dying poet knew it was coming and died the happier on that account.

But in still another way does this man’s figure stand out. In the country called the Ukraine is a nation of between thirty and forty millions of people, having a language of their own — the language in which these poems were composed.

This has been, as it were, a nation lost, buried alive one might say, beneath the power of surrounding empires.

They have a terrible history of oppression, alternating with desperate revolts against Polish and Muscovite tyranny.

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