This was the view from the monument over his grave. It was all he ever wanted in life ... to gaze at his beloved Dnipro and the lands and horizon beyond it. But he was denied that simple pleasure by tsarist Russia which kept him in exile, and in chains.
Isn't it bizarre (and sad) how a powerful imperialist regime could be so threatened by a poet whose words just encouraged the Ukrainian people to be proud of their language, their history and their heritage, that they persecuted him for his entire life?
Obviously there is something to that Ukrainian proverb: В руках поета-героя, дуже небезпечна зброя. (The hand of a poet can be a dangerous weapon.)Below is a snapshot of the actual monument itself. Our tour guide told us that originally there was a large cross marking the grave, but the soviets took it down and replaced it with this statue. It would seem the successors of the tsarist regime were similarly threatened... by a religious symbol.
This is the tour guide (
I think his name was Danylo Victor) who took us around the park and told us about the life and times of Taras Shevchenko. His English was impeccable and he had us all spellbound. I knew that Shevchenko was an accomplished painter, but I hadn't actually seen much other than poor reproductions of his self-portraits. Danylo Victor showed us some nice photographs of Shevchenko's paintings. He was truly brilliant.
Quite a lot of exquisite embroidery and paintings.
Outside the хата were some simple, but beautiful gardens. The kalyna was so striking that we all had to take close-up shots of it. (I was tempted to snitch a berry and taste it, but didn't dare...)
Isn't that a brilliantly beautiful fence for the flowers?
Our next stop was lunch in the restaurant at the hotel on the premises. But first, a detour. We had all heard about the possibility of encountering toilets that weren't exactly what we're used to, and that were essentially just holes in the floor. We came prepared with our own paper and little bottles of hand sanitizer, but weren't quite sure what to expect.
So we lined up, and when it was my sister Marilyn's turn, she handed me her purse and coat, rolled up her sleeves, took a deep breath, then said: "OK, I'm ready" ... and with great resolve and determination, marched into the cubicle. This is what she saw:
Well, I figured I could do it, too. So, I followed in my sister's footsteps. Literally. But it would seem I may require a bit more practice to be able to consistently aim straight. (OK guys, you just go ahead and laugh. You couldn't possibly relate...)
Anyway, I must say I was just glad to have been wearing leather (i.e., washable) sandals and bare feet! Actually, there was lots of water and altho it smelled like an outhouse, the facility was actually reasonably clean.It was very nice to see several groups of schoolchildren visiting the monument with their teachers, and learning about this important figure in their history.
After our delicious lunch we boarded the bus and headed back, past fields of corn and sunflowers growing in rich chernozem ... the fabled black earth Ukraine is famous for. And, having spent many childhood years on a Saskatchewan farm with a very well-used stone boat, so much rich soil with not a single stone in sight was quite amazing to see.
And speaking of sights, more to come...