On the Bicentennial of the birth of Taras Shevchenko

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March 8,2014 125

9 March 2014




On the Bicentennial of the birth of Taras Shevchenko

On 9 March 2014 the world celebrates the 200th anniversary of the birth of Taras Shevchenko – world-renowned poet, artist, champion of the Ukrainian language, political prisoner and spiritual leader of the Ukrainian nation.


The contribution of Taras Shevchenko to the intellectual and cultural heritage of humanity has not only withstood the test of time, but continues to inspire the generations of today in the struggle for the principles of equal rights and the self determination of peoples.


As testimony to his international significance, the work of Taras Shevchenko can today be read and appreciated in over 130 different languages and about 1,100 monuments to the great poet have been erected in 40 countries throughout the world.


Through his work Taras Shevchenko determinedly spoke out against human rights violations, all forms of social injustice and oppression. He also harshly condemned the imperialistic policies of tsarist Russia and encouraged subjugated nations, including Ukrainians and all Slavic and Caucasian peoples to fight for their freedom.


Taras Shevchenko was also a visionary. Having watched his people languish under a tyrannical regime and being forced to spend most of his short life in exile as punishment for his beliefs as expressed in his literary works, he wrote about what he valued most in life – freedom.


The great poet indeed had a vision. It was a vision of an independent Ukraine in which all peoples would live in dignity, enjoying mutual respect, equal rights and fundamental freedoms. His poetry instilled hope and a belief in the Ukrainian people that victory would one day be theirs. Shevchenko’s poetry crystallized the national consciousness of the Ukrainian people and his influence is felt to this day. His literary works became, and remain to this day, without parallel, the inspiration of a nation.

Today, as the people of Ukraine remain in a fight for their freedom, Shevchenko’s vision is now the vision of a new generation of Ukrainians inspired to reaffirm their faith in fundamental human rights, democratic values, and a society in which social justice and rule of law prevail; inspired to staunchly defend the dignity and worth of the human person, and equal rights for men and women and nations large and small.


The legacy of Taras Shevchenko will guide the Ukrainian people to the victory that is rightfully theirs.

As Taras Shevchenko wrote in one of his most powerful poems, Kavkaz, in support of the Caucasian peoples in their struggle against tsarist Russia’s subjugation in the 19th century:


Fight — you’ll win the fight,

God is helping you!

Behind you stands the truth,

Behind you stands the glory,

And sacred liberty as well!

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