Yanka Kupala

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. YANKA KUPALA Yanka Kupala Kupala is the pen name of the outstanding Byelorussian poet, Ivan Lulsevich. According to folk legends, the short July night of Ivan Kupala (St. John the Baptist) - a very popular Slavic holiday -is when fern begins to bloom in the thick of the forest. This herb is believed to possess some magic power. He who finds it and tears away its flower shall forever be happy.... The son of a landless Byelorussian peasant, Dominik Lutsevich, Ivan (or simply Yanka) sought the legendary'flower of happiness not in the thick of the forest but in the depths of human life. Not for himself, but for his downtrodden people who for centuries had been destined to bear the unbearable yoke of national and social oppression. For the first time, the name of Yanka Kupala

appeared on May 15, 1905, in the newspaper Severo-Zapadny Krai (The North-Western Land), under his poem A Muzhik. Both the period and the circumstances surrounding his poetic debut seem unusual and significant, as tokens of the future ascend, above the horizon of Byelorussian and world culture, of not simply another literary star, but of a whole galaxy. Together with Kupala, or thanks to him, such extraordinarily endowed personalities as Tsiotka, Maxim Bogdanovich and Yakub Kolas emerged. However, Yanka Kupala was the first, the founder of a new Byelorussian literature, its architect and constructor. He was that trailblazer which is found in the culture of every nation, as Pushkin was in Russian culture, Shevchenko in Ukrainian, Mickiewicz in Polish, and so on. The special place

which Kupala occupies in Byelorussian literature may be determined from the words of Yakub Kolas, his distinguished contemporary; "Differences in genre notwithstanding, the creations of Yanka Kupala seem to me as a single book, even as one song glorifying the work of the people. "Half of this song is angry and sad -these are the works of the pre-October period, when the poet used his inspired verse to place himself, courageously and selflessly, in the camp of those fighting for the social and national liberation of their people. "The second half is cheerful, permeated with the enthusiasm of creativeness. It belongs to the period when the Byelorussian people achieved their statehood and, guided by cxoerienced leaders, embarked upon the road leading to socialism and,

further, to communism." Kupala launched Byelorussian literature to high world-embracing orbits, treeing it from the triteness of unimaginativeness, stylishness and bookishness. His civic determination and ardent enthusiasm of an innovatr gave birth to new ideas and, more importantly, to new poetic forms, genres, rhythms andones, ll marked by finesse and stylistic flair. Yanka Kupala However, Kupala's major contribution to literature in the period before 19l7 was his voice of social protest. In his poem The Song of a Free Man, he openly calls on the people wage a struggle. Czarist censors qualified it as "antiState," since, reading it, "one cannot but notice an open encouragement of obviously rebellious actions." His humane verse, his "love of the

sun" ("I bow to the Earth and the Sun, / I'm a son of the Earth, a free son of the Sun.") brought him close to his great contemporaries like Maxim Gorky, Ivan Franko and Lesya Ukrainka. After the October Revolution, the poet envisioned his nation liberated, free from its social and national shackles. In place of zhaleika folk songs of grief, the poet, with trumpet in hand, urges his kin toward building a new life. Living for twenty years under Soviet rule proved an important landmark on the poet's road toward creative accomplishment. This period dictated new poetic themes, ideas and images. One by one, his collections of verse were published, having their effect on extensive reading circles. His works were translated into other languages -particularly into Russian