Bohdan Lepky, (Ukrainian: Богдан Лепкий, November 9, 1872,
Krehulets, Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria,
Austro-Hungary – July
21, 1941, Cracow, General Government, Nazi Germany) was a Ukrainian
writer, poet, scholar, public figure, and artist.
The writer was born on November 9, 1872, in the village of Zhukiv, in
the same house where the Polish insurgent Bogdan Jarocki once
2 Years in Cracow
3 Literary works
3.1 English Translations
4 Further reading
At the age of six Bohdan was sent to a "normal school" in Berezhany.
He went right into the second grade because he had uncommon aptitudes
even at this early age. Later, still in Berezhany,
Lepky attended a grammar school. Although the grammar school in
Berezhany was far away from the main cultural centers (even inspectors
Lviv would come just once every few years to scrutinize the
"teaching process"), young Lepky had good memories of it, not in the
least because most of the young
Ukrainians and Polish students were
noted for their ethnic tolerance, mutual respect, and
openness. Especially venerated in the grammar school
were the names of
Taras Shevchenko and Adam Mickiewicz: there were
annual recitals in honor of the two poets, as well as concerts by
Ukrainian and Polish choirs. Stage productions and concerts with both
Polish and Ukrainian repertories were usually attended by young
Ukrainian and Polish audiences.
After completing grammar school in 1891, Lepky was admitted to the
Academy of Arts in Vienna, but he soon realized that literature was
his true vocation. He then studied at
Lviv University, from where he
graduated in 1895 and returned to "his" grammar school in
a teacher of the Ukrainian and German languages and literature.
Years in Cracow
The writer's "Polish period" began in 1899, when Cracow's Jagiellonian
University launched a series of lectures on
Ukrainian language and
literature and offered a chair to Lepky.
Cracow was the city where he
not only worked but also found lifetime friends among Polish and
Ukrainian intellectuals.
At the turn of the twentieth century
Cracow was a city seething with
artistic, literary, and intellectual life, both Polish and Ukrainian.
For Cracow's Ukrainian community Lepky's house at 28 Zelena St. was a
kind of "cultural headquarters", where one could encounter Kyrylo
Studynsky, Vasyl Stefanyk, Viacheslav Lypynsky, Mykhailo Zhuk,
Mykhailo Boychuk, and other figures of Ukrainian scholarship and
culture. Among the Polish artists with whom Lepky maintained creative
cooperation for many years, were: Kazimierz Tetmajer (1865–1940), a
poet and prose writer, and author of the historical novel Legend of
the Tatra Mountains Stanisław Wyspiański, a playwright; and
Władysław Orkan, a poet.
Among the things that aroused the deep respect for Lepky on the part
of Cracow's Polish and Ukrainian intelligentsia was his authorship of
a Polish translation of The Lay of Ihor's Host (1905) and the poem
"Cranes" (1910) known to
Ukrainians throughout the world as the song
"You see, my brother, my friend, a gray string of cranes soaring high
into the sky...". The history of this poem is very
interesting. The poet said that a performance of a
Stanisław Wyspiański play prompted him to write this poem: "In the
fall of 1910, in Cracow, I was walking home after viewing a theatrical
production of Wyspianski's drama Noc Listopadowa. The withered leaves
rustled beneath my feet, and the departing cranes were trumpeting high
above me. The poem seemed to be coming out by itself, without my
knowledge or effort. My brother Lev Lepky set it to music."
Bohdan Lepky died on July 21, 1941, in
Cracow and was buried in the
local Rakowicki Cemetery.
Cranes (You see, my brother - Ukr.: Видиш, брате мій) -
1910 - famous poem known to
Ukrainians throughout the world as the
song ("You see, my brother, my friend, a gray string of cranes soaring
high into the sky...").
Song lead (Ukr.: Заспів)
Mazepa (Ukr.: Мазепа) - about Ivan Mazepa, Ukrainian hetman
Away from life, small grief (Ukr.: Набік життя журбо
I’ve Lost Contact with You (prose poem) - 1906 - 2
Nastya (Ukr.: Настя) - 1897 - 12
In the Forest (Ukr.: В лісі)- 1896 - 9
Revenge (Ukr.: Месть) - 1901
Three Portraits - a book of memoirs in which he relates his encounters
and creative relationships with
Ivan Franko and
Vasyl Stefanyk and
reminiscences extensively about Władysław Orkan.
Short story "Why?".
The role of
Bohdan Lepky in the rapprochement between the Ukrainian
and Polish cultures, By Ihor SIUNDIUKOV, The Day
Poetry and poems by
Bohdan Lepky (in Ukrainian)
Bohdan Lepky (in Ukrainian)
^ Senkus, R. 1993, “Bohdan Lepky” in Internet Encyclopedia of
^ Lepky, B., 1998, Brother against Brother, pp.322-333, Language
Lantern Publications, Toronto, (Engl. transl.)transl.)