Bohdan Lepky

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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 [1]Bogdan Jarocki once lived.


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.[citation needed] 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 from 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.[citation needed] 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 Berezhany as a teacher of the Ukrainian and German languages and literature.

Years in Cracow[edit]

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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed] 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.

Literary works[edit]

  • 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 дрібна)
  • 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.

English Translations[edit]

Short story "Why?"[2].

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ Senkus, R. 1993, “Bohdan Lepky” in Internet Encyclopedia of Ukraine.
  2. ^ Lepky, B., 1998, Brother against Brother, pp.322-333, Language Lantern Publications, Toronto, (Engl. transl.)transl.)