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ISSN 2227-6017 (ONLINE), ISSN 2303-9868 (PRINT), DOI: 10.18454/IRJ.2227-6017
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Борушковска И. ИСТОКИ ОЧАРОВАННЯ УКРАИНОЙ В ПОЛЬСКОМ РОМАНТИЗМЕ / И. Борушковска // Международный научно-исследовательский журнал. — 2020. — №12 (31) Часть 1. — С. 113—115. — URL: (дата обращения: 17.09.2021. ).
Борушковска И. ИСТОКИ ОЧАРОВАННЯ УКРАИНОЙ В ПОЛЬСКОМ РОМАНТИЗМЕ / И. Борушковска // Международный научно-исследовательский журнал. — 2020. — №12 (31) Часть 1. — С. 113—115.



Борушковска И.

Кандидат филологических наук, факультет полонистики Ягеллонского

Университета, ul. Gołębia 16, 31-007 Kraków / Краков Польша



Исследование является попыткой дать  ответ на вопрос: какиелитературные мотивы можно назвать истоками очарования регионом, пейзажем и населением бывшего юго-востока страны (Республики Польша)? Южные мотивы были территориально ограничены украинскими землями ихронологически соотносимы с периодом ноябрьского восстания 1830 года и последующей волны эмиграции и 1848 годом, когда после Весны народов всвязи с появлением национально-освободительных тенденций интерес к юго-восточным мотивам ослаб. Под юго-востоком мы будем иметь ввиду Червоную Русь, Волынь, Украину и Подолье, приблизительно в границах сегодняшней Украины. Особое внимание будет обращено на трех представителей украинской школы.

Ключевые слова: украинские мотивы, “Украинская школа”, романтизм.

Boruszkowska I.

PhD candidate in literature studies, Faculty of Polish Studies, Jagiellonian Univeristy, ul. Gołębia 16, 31-007 Kraków



The reaserch is an attempt to answer a question: which literary motives produce enchantment of land, landscape and people of former south-east Republic (Republic of Poland) lands? South-confines motives were territorial limited to Ukrainian lands and closed in a period between The November Insurrectionin 1830, and connected to this emigration, and year 1848 when afer springtide of nations, in the presence of awoken nationcreat tendency interest of south-east motives becomes weak. Through south-east confines we will understand Red Ruthenia,Volhynia, Ukraine and Podolia, approximately land of today’s Ukranine. Attention will be paid to three representatives of the Ukrainian school.

Keywords: Ukrainian motives, “Ukrainian school”, romanticism.

The topos of Ukraine that was evinced in our Romanticist literature “revealed a whole distinct cultural space, and carried with itself a different kind of historiosophy than the one present within the elite culture (…) began a debate on how to understand history and its causes (…), showed primordial, pre-Christian sources of domestic culture and created a concept of national-Slavic literature. In concert with the above, it transformed and modified the theory of literary development, the function of poetry and the poet’s creation. (…) Said topos in fact brought about a brand new literary movement” [10, 107].

As noted by Stanisław Uliasz, the beginnings of the “Ukrainian myth” date back to the end of XVI, and to XVII century [12, 120]. It seems that it was this period, the period during which Szymon Szymonowic and the Zimorowic brothers produced their literary works, which saw the birth of the specific “legend of the Eastern bounds” [12, 89]. The scholar states further in his work that the period witnessed “a strong idealization of this area, decisive in the development of the Arcadian trope and the stereotype of the Ukrainian land of milk and honey” [12, 94]. When surveying the extant descriptions of the Ukrainian lands one must not omit the literary vision of Sofiówka by Stanisław Trembecki, as well as some of the pre-Romanticist poems of Franciszek Karpiński, born near Kołomyja. It is also necessary to agree with the opinion of Stanisław Uliasz, that it was exactly Romanticism which “fully discovered Ukraine, giving the territory a spatial-cultural shape that was distinct from the remaining lands of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth” [12, 97], and making it “the most mythopoeic region of them all” [5, 129].

The spiritual atmosphere of this cross-cultural region influenced the imagination of Romanticist poets, shaped and fertilized it, backed by the rich Ukrainian folklore, and the colorful and heroic history of the nation. Writers associated with Podolia, Volhynia, or Galicia inherited at the moment of their births a rich deposit of cultural heritage, and by learning of this heritage – they took root in it with their souls and minds. “Memories of childhood” – in the words of Maria Straszewska – “bore fruits in poetry, furnishing it with regional traits; something that was underlined and acknowledged as positive by contemporary critics” [11, 150]. Indeed it was the writers’ origin that appears as one of the fundamental causes of their interest in Ukrainian-ness. It relates to the recollection of the “land of childhood” in their works, together with its folklore and history, often as the motherland that had been left, or lost.

The sources of enchantment with the Eastern lands in XIX century should be looked for among cultural and philosophical currents of the Romanticist era – in folkism, regionalism, orientalism, historicism. The folkist esthetic program took as its tenet to refer to folk literature, and to draw from it themes and stylistic patterns. The planks formulated during the Romanticist period had their predecessor in the sentimental poetry of Franciszek Karpiński and Franciszek Dionizy Kniaźnin, as well as the pioneering ethnographic studies of Zorian Dołęga-Chodakowski. As Maria Ankudowicz-Bieńkowska notes: “The interest in common folk, its past, art, ethos, and its ritual, contributed to the start and to the multi-faceted development of folklore studies itself and ethnography, while at the same time constituted a space enabling discussion on a socially relevant subject well within the main current of interests and ideological debates of Romanticism” [1, 6].

One of the factors which inspired ethnographic studies was regionalism, of which the interest in folk culture was one aspect. Particular descriptions of regional culture gave us a systematization of the local ways of life, and showed the variety of cultures that interacted with each other. The area where different cultural spheres co-existed and mingled, saw the flowering of interest in folklore [1, 104-105].

The folklore material in the shape of themes, customs, folk feasts, literary genres, always flowed from specific regional springs. By the fact of being born in Ilińce, Mohylev, or some other Ukrainian location, and by the virtue of being infused with the local folklore, many poets and authors had roots that were obviously Ukrainian. As Helena Kapełuś writes: “Figures of our Romanticist literature were better acquainted with the folklore of the Eastern borderlands of the Commonwealth, a folklore the distinctiveness and specific traits of which  they did not fully realize; it was those figures who gave currency to many different themes, especially religious ones, characteristic of the areas they grew up in” [6, 307].

Fascinated with the ideas of Herder, the Romanticist enthusiasts embark on a search for “village poetry”. At the break of 1813/1814 Adam Czarnocki, better known as Zorian Dołęga-Chodakowski, set out for his journeys, the aim of which was the examination of folklore. Among others he collected folk songs from what today is Ukraine and Belarus, with the conviction that in oral traditions of the common people one could discern traces of pre-Slavic culture. The works of Zorian were later used by the Russian ethnographer Mychaylo Maksymovitch, who in Moscow throughout the years 1827-1834 published collections of Ukrainian songs. Results of Polish ethnographic studies were made public a short while after the works of Russian researchers – Mykola Certelev’s “Opyt sobranija starinnych małorossijskich piesniej” (Petersburg 1819) and Mychaylo Maksymovitch’s books of 1827 and 1834.

An interest in Ukrainian folklore can be seen in Krystyn Lach Szyrma’s “Dumki ze śpiewu ludu wiejskiego Czerwonej Rusi” (“Dumkas of the Red Ruthenia Common Folk’s Songs”) of 1818. Another enthusiast of folklore Wacław of Olesk collated about 1.500 folks songs, published in the year 1833 under the title “Pieśni polskie i ruskie ludu galicyjskiego” (“Polish and Russ Songs of the Galician Folk”). An interesting addition to this collection are texts accompanied by musical notation of Karol Lipiński. Also in Lviv throughout 1839-1849 Żegota Pauli publishes two volumes – including over 650 songs – entitled „Pieśni ludu ruskiego w Galicji” (“Songs of the Russ Folk in Galicia”). Songs of the Ukrainian commoners were also published in press during the second decade of XIX century [4, 37]. It would not be an exaggeration to say that it were in fact Polish scholars (Oskar Kolberg, Jan Czeczot, Aleksander Rypiński, Żegota Pauli, Antoni Jaxa-Marcinkowski) who created the groundwork for the ethnographies of Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine [6, 307].

It can be stated that the preoccupation with Ukrainian folk song continued unabated, and that it found use in many different capacities (for example as means of popularizing folklore, or as artistic material). Folk songs contributed to creating the literary image of Ukraine, they were a source of knowledge about distant past, customs and beliefs. Folks tales were employed both by writers born and bred in Ukraine, as well as by those unfamiliar with it, or by those who never even set their foot there.

Writers and ethnographers turned their attention towards the past. The subject of their interest was the history and culture of not only Poland, but other Slavic nations too, or of Slavdom as such. This manifested in archeological studies, ethnographic peregrinations and collecting folk artifacts, studies of Slavic languages and cultures [13, 33].

The Romanticist enthusiasts of folklore discussed the question of “relationships between folkishness, nationality and the primordial, mythical, prehistoric and pagan culture of ancient Slavdom” [13,7], which appeared to those minds as something elevated, magical and utopian.

As H. Werwes notes, “Ukraine-mania soon transitions from the fields of ethnography and history, to literature” [13, 106].

The enchantment with Ukraine brought together different threads of Romanticist interests: Slavdom, “dreams of pre-culture” in the words of Stanisław Pigoń, mysteriousness of Orient, “the bliss of life” [14, 16] and the drive for that which is hidden, and for adventure. The semantics of the notions of “Slavdom” and “orientalism”, when imposed on the image of Ukrainian lands, brings to mind the metaphysics of boundless spaces, and of hidden treasures of the past. Paraphrasing the opinion of Alina Witkowska, pertaining to the Romanticists’ fascination with Slavdom, we can surmise that “it was not so much about facts and archeology, but rather about philosophy of history, a certain metaphysics of historical development, and thus – about notions relating to Man, Nation, and Humanity” [14,10]. Careful readers of Zorian’s „O Sławiańszczyźnie przed chrześcijaństwem” (“Of Slavdom Before Christianity”) (both Polish Romanticists of the “Ziewonia” milieu, and Ukrainian ones associated with the “Russ Trinity” group), were not entirely in agreement with his ideas. As Włodzimierz Mokry writes: “For the Polish and Ukrainian poets of Galicia, the Slavic nativeness had its roots in a continuous development of particular native cultures” [9, 99]. What drew them to the works of Chodakowski, was the “reverence for ancientness and nativeness, together with the call to search for the past in gravesites and the memories of the common folk” [9, 100]: Treating folk tales, folk songs, customs and rituals as sources of knowledge about the culture of yore and of the ancestors’ character contributed to weakening of criteria of historical truth. Such an attitude towards history was in full agreement with general planks of the Romanticist era, where reason ceased being the only judge of the past and the only tool of its evaluation.

Another important factor working towards the popularity of Ukrainian themes in Polish Romanticist literature was the desire to oppose the “elite culture of forefathers” [11, 151] with an esthetic-ideological program, characterized by the ambition to connect literary creation with peculiarities of regions, their customs, culture and language. Many critical literary essays in XIX century argued for the necessity of going back to the national tradition and its regional springs, which also contributed to the growth of popularity of Ukrainian culture, since, as announced by Maurycy Mochancki – “Ukraine is the Scotland of Poland”, by which he meant a land of immense beauty and with a distinct culture of its own. On the topic of the allure of Ukrainian landscape, it is worth mentioning that Wahylewicz himself ascribed a great value to it, as an additional ingredient that gave the Ukrainian character and literature their unique flavor [9,70], writing in the foreword to “Rusałka Dniestrowa” (“The Dniester Nymph”): nature spoke to the Russ soul, and the soul absorbed the nature inside” [9, 76]. We could add here the case of Seweryn Goszczyński, likewise enamored with the beauty of Ukrainian soil, who when describing the “Polish Ukraine”, which is to say “the part that touches Dnieper in the East, Boh in West, Volhynia in the North, and the steppes of Chersonese in the South” [3, 12], elaborated thusly:

“The space of several dozens of miles of Ukraine encompasses a most pleasing variety. The forests and gorges making up the larger part of this province from the side of Boh; granite cliffs in the vicinity of Uman, Bohuslav and Korsun; pine woods, forested hills, whole swampy rivers, as in between Moszny and Smiła, imposing bodies of water of Boh, Dnieper, the many ponds and lakes, and the commencing sea of the steppe; in one word: sands and the most fertile fields of grain in the world, the clearest waters and unreachable swamplands, cheerful forests and timeless wilderness, silent valleys and enormous hills; never traversed thickets and steppes uncharted, they all congregated here, as in a nature’s feast of reconciliation. It is of no wonder that I should regard such a land as perhaps the most enchanting in the whole of old Poland; no wonder that such a land would have made its inhabitants as they are, and sired a nation that can take its place among the bravest. It is enough to hear this nation’s tales, its epics, it is enough to gaze upon all those fields filled with graves” [3, 15].

The esthetic qualities of Ukrainian landscape are unquestionable, therefore we must agree with the opinion of Maurycy Mochancki:

“Verily it is the Polish Scotland, and fabrication, no matter how lush, would not succeed in adding to reality, which so forcefully captures the reader’s imagination” [8, 200].

However we should not allow ourselves to skip over the political-patriotic context when searching for the sources of fascination with the South-Eastern bounds. In XIX century Poland was under Partitions, the November Uprising suffered defeat, and the partitioning governments intensified repressive measures. Meanwhile the Eastern borderlands reminded of the past glory of the Commonwealth, of the courageous knights of the Eastern marches, and gave hopes for reclaiming independence. Those hopes found an incarnation in the image of the free Cossack, and in the symbolism of the boundless steppe. In Romanticist works, the Cossack constituted not merely a symbol of individual liberty and personal self-reliance, but in addition was an embodiment of the dream of national struggle. The Romanticist fascination with the Cossack way of life was also, according to Halina Krukowska, “a consequence of the belief, that it (the way of life) was the least tainted with artificialness and social conventions, and that it should be seen first and foremost as a direct manifestation of feelings and passions, that is – the pure voice of nature itself” [7, 25].

G. G. Grabowicz emphasizes that fact that Polish Romanticists’ interest with Ukraine was territorially confined to Right-Bank Ukraine, and historically confined to the period from between the end of XVI century and the beginning of the XVII, up until the life time of a given writer. “Both of these limitations – writes Grabowicz – suggest that during XIX century Ukraine was perceived as a part of the Polish cultural and political space, a legal-historical component of the old Commonwealth, and not as a separate entity”.

To recapitulate the discussion of sources of the Romanticist enchantment with Ukraine, one must note that on one hand it was a reflection of fascination with the history, landscape, folklore, and the exoticism of that country, in accordance with the Romanticist fields of interest, and on the other – of fascination with one’s own homeland (it would be near impossible to count all those writers who were born, spent their childhood, and their youth there). And all those “Poles from Ukraine” – as they should be described – “had a strong feeling of the Ukrainian distinctiveness, uniqueness and lushness of its past, and in result – its privileged position, its more poetic character than that of the rest of Poland”. A couple of valuable observations on the topic of Romanticists’ interest in Ukraine can be found in Maria Bielanka-Luftowa’s article, who writes that “the luminaries of Polish Romanticism hailed not only from the Eastern border, but also the South-Eastern lands, (…) Podolia, Volhynia and Ukraine” [2, 362]. She proves in the latter part of the article that due to their local character, historical tradition and folk art, it were exactly those borderlands that provided the means for transforming literature into a national kind. The territorial peculiarities, with their physiographic, ethnic, economical, historical and cultural properties, became a topic of interest for the Romanticists [ 2, 363]. The scholar also posits some reasons for the interest in the Eastern borderlands in the Romanticist era: the borderlands posses an interesting history as a field of past battles; they are ethnically diverse, exotic terrains, where “the folk tradition, owing to the fact of their distance from the cultural centre, was preserved more fully, and acquired more poeticalness” [3, 363]. She also underscores the importance “of the regional factor in preserving the national sentiment”, which in the post-Partition era seems especially weighty. Maria Bielanka-Luftowa asks in her essay: why was it only Ukraine that played such a crucial role as s territory? She looks for the answer in the steppe landscape of the South-Eastern lands, where nature was exactly to the Romanticist liking: “primeval and great nature of the steppe and the sea, exotic as well, due to both its lushness and its steppe character” [3, 365]. She also describes the Cossack phenomenon and the Romanticists’ interest in the armies of the Zaporizhian Sich. She adds to this the local exoticism and the contacts with the Muslim world. She also mentions the folk art and the Ukrainian folk song, stating that “it surpassed – already in the opinion of Romanticism’s contemporary scholars – other parts of Poland in terms of its artistic richness, originality, and the ancientness of its tradition, which were considered vehicles of the oldest and the best preserved Slavic culture, the source of the national spirit” [3, 367].

Another investigator of the “Ukrainian school” writes on the topic of Romanticist preoccupation with Ukraine: “the Romanticist critics admitted that Ukraine is the most appropriate theme to be expressed in poetry. Such claims suggested that whatever is Ukrainian, is also highly poetic” [7, 24]. Halina Krukowska sees the main source of this XIX century preoccupation in “the epistemological-esthetical attitude of the period, one concerned with the folkishness, oldness, exoticism, individuality of particular regions, cultures and provinces” [7,24]. As the leading causes for the popularity of Ukrainian themes in Romanticism, she presents among others the fact that Ukraine had the most original, according to the Romanticists, local character and the most unchanged folk culture. She also emphasizes the troubled history of the lands in question [7, 25].


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