Yanka Kupala

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Janka Kupala
Я́нка Купа́ла
Yanka Kupala.jpg
Born July 7 [O.S. June 25] 1882
Viazynka, Minsk Governorate, Russian Empire
Died June 28, 1942 (aged 59)
Moscow, Soviet Union
Occupation Poet and writer
Nationality Belarusian
Period 1903–1942

Janka Kupala (Janka Kupała, Belarusian: Я́нка Купа́ла; July 7 [O.S. June 25] 1882 – June 28, 1942) – was the pen name of Ivan Daminikavich Lutsevich (Belarusian: Іва́н Даміні́кавіч Луцэ́віч), a Belarusian poet and writer. Kupala is considered one of the greatest Belarusian-language writers of the 20th century.


Early life

House where Janka Kupala was born (folwark Viazynka, Minsk district, Belarus)
File:Yanka Kupala in Saint Petersburg, 1909.jpg
Janka Kupala during his study under a professor A. Charniaev in Saint Petersburg, 1909

Kupala was born on July 7, 1882 in Viazynka, a folwark settlement near Maladzyechna. His family was noble, although both of Kupala's parents were employed as tenant farmers at the folwark. Kupala was thus essentially born into a landless peasant class. Kupala received a traditional Belarusian education, completing his studies in 1898. Following the death of his father in 1902, Kupala worked a variety of short-term jobs, including as a tutor, a shop assistant, and a record keeper.

Kupala's first serious literary attempt was Ziarno, a Polish-language sentimental poem which he completed around 1903–1904 under the pseudonym "K-a." His first Belarusian-language work ("Мая доля") was dated July 15, 1904. Kupala's first published poem, "Мужык" ("Peasant"), was published approximately a year later, appearing in Belarusian in the Russophone Belarusian newspaper Severo-Zapadnyi Krai (Northwestern Krai) on May 11, 1905. A number of subsequent poems by Kupala appeared in the Belarusian-language newspaper Nasha Niva from 1906 to 1907.

In Vilnius and St. Petersburg

Kupala moved to Vilnius in 1908, where he continued with his career as a poet. The same year the first published collection of his poems, Жалейка (The Little Flute) brought on the ire of the czarist government, which ordered the book confiscated as an anti-government publication. The order for Kupala's arrest was revoked in 1909, but a second printing was again confiscated, this time by the local authorities in Vilnius. Kupala ceased working for the Nasha Niva in order to avoid ruining the reputation of the newspaper.

Kupala left for Saint Petersburg in 1909. The subsequent year saw the publication of several works, including the poem Адвечная песьня (Eternal Song), which appeared as a book in St. Petersburg in July 1910. Сон на кургане (Dream on a Barrow)– completed in August 1910 –symbolised the poor state of Kupala's Belarusian homeland. Kupala left St. Petersburg and returned to Vilnius in 1913. Among those influencing Kupala in the 1910s was Maxim Gorky.

During the Soviet period

Kupala's writing changed to an optimistic tone following the Great October Revolution of 1917. Among Kupala's numerous translations into the Belarusian language were the internationalist-Marxist anthem The Internationale and an ancient epic poem The Tale of Igor's Campaign (translated in 1921).[1][2] Nevertheless, Kupala maintained his connections with the anti-Soviet oriented nationalist emigres of the Belarusian People's Republic, who exhorted that he join them in exile in Czechoslovakia during a trip abroad in 1927. At home, the newly established authorities considered him with some distrust–at times, criticism of Kupala in the press mounted insofar as Kupala's activities were regarded as too oriented around nationalism. This period stopped once Kupala printed a public letter of apology in the 1930s.

Kupala was awarded the Order of Lenin in 1941 for the poetry collection Ад сэрца (From the Heart).

With the Occupation of Belarus by Nazi Germany in 1941, because of being very ill he moved to Moscow and then to Tatarstan. But even from there he wrote poems supporting the Belarusian partisans fighting against Nazi Germany. He died in Moscow in 1942, having fallen down the stairwell in Hotel Moskva.

Kupala became recognised as a symbol of culture of Belarus during the Soviet era. A museum, organised in Minsk through the efforts of his widow in 1945, is the leading literary museum in Belarus. Hrodna State University was named after Yanka Kupala.


  1. "The tale of Igor's campaign".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Виктор Корбут. "Исполнилось 90 лет первому переводу "Слова о полку Игореве" на белорусский язык" [the first translation of The Tale of Igor's Campaign into Belarusian was made 90 years ago] (in Russian). Российская газета.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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