Vasyl Stus (1938-1985)

To speak about such Ukrainian poet as Vasyl Stus is not such an easy task as it might seem. The thing is that the names of such writers as Taras Shevchenko, Lesya Ukrainka, Ivan Franko are well-known to the readers, but they belonged to the previous century. As for the names of modern writers, they are not so well-known as they should.

The reason of it is that not so long ago the Ukrainian literature was far from being popular and such names as Vasyl Stus, Vasyl Simonenko, Ivan Druch and some others have been forgotten and their works have been neglected. Nowadays much is done to know their creation.

Vasyl Stus was born on January 8, 1938 in the village of Rakhnivka in the Kyiv region. After graduating from a Teacher’s Training College he worked as a teacher of Ukrainian language and literature, joined the army. In 1963 he moved to Kyiv to become a post-graduate student at the Institute of Literature. He translated works by G. Lorka and wrote critical articles to

the magazines.

His prison poetry included the collections “A Candle in a Mirror” and especially “Palimpsests”.

These collections are considered the top of his creative heritage. Vasyl Stus’ prison poetry explores the themes of life and death, fate and destiny, individual choice and responsibility. The treatment to these themes places his work in the context of those written by Taras Shevchenko.

He returned back to Kyiv in 1979 only to be arrested again eight months later. This time he was sentenced to ten years of imprisonment and five years of exile. He died on September 4, 1985 in a punishment cell at a camp for political prisoners in the Urals. He was only 47 years old. In 1989 Stus with G. Lytvyn and philologist O. Tykhyi were reburied on the Baikove cemetery in Kyiv. In 1990 posthumously Stus was awarded the State Prize of Ukraine in Literature for his poetic collection “The Way of Pain”. Vasyl Stus takes the undeniable leading place on the modern Ukrainian literary horizon. His works have won broad recognition.

Proverbs and Sayings

Like author, like book. There is no friend so faithful as a good book. In every beginning think of the end. Choose an author as you choose a friend. No man was ever a great poet, without beingat the same time a profound philosopher. Man cannot live by bread alone. Learn to write well, or not to write at all. When you have nothing to say, say nothing. Books and friends should be few but good.

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Vasyl Stus (1938-1985)