Vasyl Symonenko

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Vasyl Symonenko
Василь Симоненко
Stamp of Ukraine s1421.jpg
Born(1935-01-08)January 8, 1935
Lubny Raion, Ukrainian SSR
DiedDecember 13, 1963(1963-12-13) (aged 28)
Cherkasy, Ukrainian SSR
Occupationpoet, public activist
CitizenshipSoviet Union
Alma materKiev State University (1957)
Literary movement60ers

Vasyl Symonenko (Ukrainian: Василь Андрійович Симоненко; January 8, 1935 – December 13, 1963) a well-known Ukrainian poet, journalist, activist of dissident movement. He is considered one of the most important figures in Ukrainian literature of the early 1960s. By the opinion of the Museum of dissident movement in Kiev, the works and early death of Vasyl Symonenko had an enormous impact on the rise of the national democratic movement in Ukraine.[1]


The poet was born in a peasant family in the village of Biyivtsi, Kharkiv Oblast (today - Poltava Oblast).

After graduating from Kiev State University in 1957, Vasyl Symonenko worked as a journalist in several newspapers in Cherkasy Oblast.

His debut book of poems "Tysha i hrim" ("Silence and thunder") was published in 1962 and made the talent of Symonenko clear among the young poets. His literary environment included the poets Mykola Vinhranovsky, Ivan Drach and Lina Kostenko, the publicists, critics Ivan Dziuba, Ivan Svitlichny, Y. Sverstyuk, who, with other Ukrainian intilligensia of the time, made a group which is now called шістдестятники (Sixtiers).[2]

During his last year of living Vasyl Symonenko wrote his second book – "Земне тяжіння" ("Earth’s gravity"), the verses from which were quoted, written out (adding what the Soviet censorship had omitted), learned by heart and compared with the poetry of Taras Shevchenko.[1]

In 1962, Symonenko together with his friends A.Horska and Les Tanyuk found the burial places of NKVD repressions in Bykivnia, Lukianivskyi and Vasyslkivskyi cemeteries near Kiev. For the fact he appealed to the Kiev City Council, which, according to some scholars, could have caused him falling out of favor among the government, and, possibly, his death.

In 1963 Symonenko was beaten by employees of the local militsiya at the Smila railway station from which he suffered kidney failure and soon died in the local hospital on December 13, 1963.

Already after his death there was published his satiric tale-poem "Travel to the country of Vice-versa" (1964).

The fullest collection of Symonenko's works was published abroad under the title "Берег чекань" ("Shore of anticipation") in Munich (1963).[1]

In 1967 the publishing house "Smoloskyp" was created in Baltimore by Ukrainian emigrants and named after Vasyl Symonenko.[3]

In December, 2008, the National Bank of Ukraine issued into circulation a commemorative coin "Vasyl Symonenko" within "Outstanding Personalities of Ukraine" series.[4]

Film adaptation[edit]

The Ukrainian director Aleksandr Zherebko, having formed a creative tandem with Angelina Dyatlova, created an adaptation of the poetry “You Didn’t Come to Me from a Tale or a Dream” (Ukrainian: “Ти до мене прийшла не із казки чи сну”) by Vasily Andriyovych Symonenko.1 2

English translations[edit]

His works have been translated partially into English.

  • Vasyl Symonenko. "Гранітні обеліски. / Granite obelisks". Translated into English by Andriy M Freishyn-Chirovsky. Jersey City: Svoboda. 1975. 143 p. (parallel bilingual texts in both English and Ukrainian)
  • Vasyl Symonenko. "Тиша і грім. Вибрані поезії Василя Симоненка / Silence and Thunder: The Selected Poetry of Vasyl Symonenko". Translated into English by Michael M Nayden. Lviv: Piramida. 2017. 128 p. ISBN 978-966-441-470-5 (parallel bilingual texts in both English and Ukrainian)
  • Vasyl Symonenko. "Rose Petal Wine". Translated into English by Yuri Tkacz. Melbourne: Bayda Books. 2020. 116 p. ISBN 978-0-908480-48-7

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Museum of dissident movement in Kiev.
  2. ^ Encyclopedia of Ukraine
  3. ^ Smoloskyp official website
  4. ^ Commemorative Coin "Vasyl Symonenko", National Bank of Ukraine, December 2008

External links[edit]