Vasyl Symonenko ( ;
January 8, 1935 - 1963) a well-known Ukrainian poet, journalist, activist of
considered one of the most important figures in Ukrainian
literature of the early 1960s. By the opinion of the Museum of dissident
movement in Kiev, the works
and early death of Vasyl Symonenko had an enormous impact on the
rise of the national democratic movement in Ukraine.
was born in a peasant family in the village
of Biyivtsi (Poltava
graduating from Kiev State
University in 1957, Vasyl Symonenko worked as a journalist in several newspapers in Cherkassy oblast.
The debut book of poems "Tysha i hrim" ("Silence and thunder") came
in 1962 and made clear the talent of Symonenko among the young
poets, though he had only one year to live (cancer of kidneys was
diagnosed later). His literary environment included the poets
Mykola Vinhranovsky, Ivan Drach
, the publicists, critics
I. Dziuba, I. Svitlichny, Y. Sverstyuk and other "shestydesyatnyky"
(the sixtiers) .
During his last year of living Vasyl Symonenko wrote his second
book – "Zemne tyazhinnya" ("Earth’s gravity"), the verses from
which were quoted, written out (adding what the censor had
omitted), learned by heart and compared with the poetry of Taras Shevchenko
Symonenko together with his friends A.Horska and Les Tanyuk found the burial places of NKVD repressions in Bykivnia,
Lukianivskyi and Vasyslkivskyi cemeteries near Kyiv.
His works had been translated into English and published mostly
among the Ukrainian diaspora
and Western Europe
fullest collection of Symonenko’s works was published abroad under
the title "Bereh chekan" ("Shore of anticipation") in Munich
The publishing house "Smoloskyp" was named after Vasyl Symonenko in
Examples of Vasyl Symonenko works
"...Gray-haired L'viv! The capital of my dreams,
Epicenter of my joy and hope!
My heart bursts - I understand you
But, L'viv, you have to understand me a little.
I came to you with admiration of a son
From the plains where Slavuta composes its legends
To have your desperate lion's heart
Shed a drop of power into my heart."
(extract from the poem "Ukrainian Lion", 1962)
"Billions of beliefsare buried in the black soil,billions of
happinesseshave been scattered into dust..."