In our days when again as it was in Lesya Ukrainka’s life time (1871-1913), tsar Alexander ruling it was illegal even to print anything in the Ukrainian language except historical documents, the Ukrainian people try to be a nation as a whole. At that time they united against the tsarist oppression of Ukrainian schools, theatres, all cultural, political and social life.
Once more again the Ukrainian nation is in turmoil, the people of the East and West are divided by a conflict.
Lesya Ukrainka’s poems and dramas are very applicable to our times.Her personal life in spite of her affliction (tuberculosis of the bones) was a prime example of a strong-willed fighter who created a great number of wonderful dramas and unforgettable poetry. The cover of the book “Lesya Ukrainka” (life and work by Constantine Bida (University of Ottawa, Canada), Selected Works translated by Vera Rich (London, England), published in 1968 for the Women’s Council of the Ukrainian Canadian Committee by University of Toronto Press) is to the right.
“What brought interest to Lesya Ukrainka to-day?”, I asked Janko, a Canadian of Slovak ancestry, who through his great grandmother (as his father told him) had direct connections and ties to Ukraine and always had interest in history of this region: Slovakia-Ukraine-Russia. The events which are happening now in Ukraine, started with Maidan and continuing to the present, resulted in an inquisitive spark from his part to understand the truth behind the scenes.
The book is about “a pale and slim girl with big eyes” (Ivan Franko’s observation) who got her education just from her mother Olena Pchilka, father Petro Kosach, uncle Mykhaylo Drahomaniv, never attended the regular school. Self-taught, talented from the nature, she created the sonnet “FAH”, number IV in a Cycle “Seven Strings” (dedicated to uncle Mykhaylo”:
“FAntasy, thou art the magic force
Which built a world in spaces empty, brink-less,
Poured feeling in the star rays that, unthinking,
Waken the dead from sleep’s eternal course.
Life into chilly billows thou dost force!
Where thou art, fantasy, is joy and springtime.
To thee, bright fantasy, our greetings bringing,
We raise our bent brows once more heavenwards.
Fantasy, thou goddess light of plumage,
Opening to us a world of gold illusion,
Thou with a rainbow dost to earth unite it!
Terrestrial and mysterious dost unite,
If the human soul knew not thy brightness,
Life would be sad and gloomy as black as night.” (translated from Ukrainian into English by Vera Rich)
In support of my Ukrainian and Russian brothers and sisters and showing my love and respect for them I ask you to listen to this music:“Білі лілеі-Назарій Яремчук”