Who is Olga Kobylanska

Editor's Note: Olga's Dream Corner is dedicated to publishing translations of work by Olga Kobylanska as well as other Ukrainian writers and poets of the past. In addition you will read essays and see pictures of Ukraine, the country Olga loved with passion.

Olga Kobylanska Why Olga Kobylanska? We invite you to visit this website and learn through her work, and that of others why we need to make her words available to English speaking readers. To quote Victor Sherman, a Russian-born, New York based writer, "As to my words about Olga K., I believe she is one of the greatest women of our century. Unfortunately, she belonged not to England or USA, but to Ukraine which was to undergo all the burdens of Russian Civil War, Russification and Stalin's terror. Her message just was not appreciated the way it deserved.

"In NATURE she is one of the first in the world literature to introduce the possibility that woman is a 'stronger sex' and that she could have the upper hand in making decisions about relationships. For the first time in literature, a man's sexual attractiveness is seen from the woman's viewpoint. Olga concludes with the insight that although woman is strong, 'a queen,' she needs a king to insure the continuation of the line. Thus, she is aware that there is no succession without cooperation of 'equals'

"As to the verses you quoted from Mykola's poem To Olga Kobylanska (where it is suggested that Olga 'was not able to love. .') that is exactly the wail of the rejected man!"

Editors Note: Perhaps Olga 'chose' not to love!


Nature bookcover by Olga Kobylanska
(an edited excerpt)
translated by Alexandra Budna
edited by Cora Schwartz

(A peasant Hutsel boy meets an aristocratic Ruthenian girl while walking in the Carpathian Mountains. She has met his challenge to join him in a climb to the top.)

There was only loneliness and the uproar of the forest around them.

Overcome by this splendid beauty she stood for a while, seeming to have forgotten that he was near her.

He sat on the ground next to her. It was evident he didn't notice this beauty around them. She stood in front of him tall and slender.

He could see the lines and shape of her graceful body as the sun radiated through her thin clothes. He felt her as one can feel the scent of a stunning plant. The blood rushed madly through his veins.

Suddenly she turned her head, fixing her shining, wide-open eyes on him. "Why are you sitting there so silent? It is so beautiful here." She sounded half confused and half sad as she looked around. "That's true, but sit down!" "Oh, no, I have to go." "Go? Why?" he said almost unconsciously. "Yes!" "How come?" "I have to!" "Sit down for a while!" "I don't want to!" "Why not?" "Cause . . ." "Come on!" It sounded like an order.

Some kind of willfulness that does not allow any fear rose in her; she smiled and whispered "What if I do not wish to?"

Boldness as cold as ice, appeared on his face. He knelt on one knee, grasped her slender body with both hands, and pulled her closer. . . "You are so beautiful. . . so beautiful!" he whispered.

When he touched her, something mysterious like a shocking current passed from him to her. She felt thousands of flames burst inside. Yet she felt like fighting. "What do you want?" "Nothing." "Then let me go." "You are so beautiful, so beautiful!"

She was seized with wild excitement. Her breast rose high. She felt her heart might split and that something was destroying her resistance. He pulled her closer. "Good man let me go!"

She tried to fight with him for a while, silently and almost automatically. His eyes were burning, yet he was as pale as a corpse. He didn't let her go. "I am asking you. . . you see. . . begging you. . ." he was whispering again and again. "You are so beautiful, so beautiful. . ."

She felt dizzy and could no longer say anything.

Kneeling, he embraced her body then held her tight as if his hands were claws. Burying his face in the folds of her dress, he pulled her slowly and forcefully to the ground.

She lost all her will. . .

A slight, uncertain smile touched her snow-white face as she bent lower and lower. She gave in to some unknown force as she fell to the ground like a broken palm.

The dazzling sun, as if drunk with victory, glittered splendidly in the west, as the tender, fair clouds around it burst into bright red flames.

That was all! . .

And now he sits here thinking she incited him just for the fun of it. He misses her terribly!

He the richest, the best, the one all the girls in the village were crazy about, and here he is, grieving in vain!

It had never happened to him before. He gnashed his teeth and hit his fist on a tree.

She is so beautiful, so beautiful!

He had just seen her in a short dream but he couldn't remember it clearly. He could only remember her leaning close to him - the sun seemed to shine in him. She laughed as quietly as she had when he told her all the girls were crazy about him. It was she who made him climb so high, to a place where a man feels dizzy.

"You have to look for me," she told him casually afterwards. These words imprinted well in his memory, even the tone of her voice. Today in the morning, he had mounted his wild horse, and if he was crazy, rode up to the road they had walked along together.

She could have been sitting somewhere painting spruces and listening to the forest roaring.

But he didn't find her.

Once, he heard something that sounded like someone walking in the forest. He held his breath, listened attentively, standing still like a tiger on alert. . . But it was only a deer, and his horse got scared and almost jumped into the abyss. . . That was all his ride was about.

Everything was so beautiful when he had been with her, like the sun at noon. He wanted it to be beautiful again. He loved her. . . Yes, now it was his turn to go crazy!

He laughed, but his heart was filled with bitter tears.

She had left him with a look in her eyes that said the world had changed for her, as if she had become a different person. She was as pale and as white as snow. It was odd how her sad eyes shone then. Oh, Good Lord!

"Do you love me?" he asked her.

She didn't answer at once, but said after a while with a tired laugh, "No."

"Oh, you do love me!" "Maybe!" "Why "maybe"?" "'Cause. . .'cause it's something different."

Was she mocking him? Is that why she didn't come back again? Perhaps she won't come back again at all!

That was impossible!

The village girls came more than once if they loved someone, for instance, him! He shook his grand head proudly and impatiently as a suppressed, angry cry broke from his lips.

He felt his soul was broken into pieces that could no longer fit together.

Yes, he was going mad. . .

Lesya Budna Alexandra Budna is a journalist, student and teacher in Cernovitsi, Ukraine. She translated NATURE while juggling two jobs and raising a three year old son. Alexandra will be translating work for this bi-lingual website. When told that the proceeds from the sale of NATURE will be sent to her directly, Alexandra responded, "The satisfaction and joy I get from translating Olga's work is enough for me." To order NATURE ($5+2 S&H) and show your support for Alexandra's efforts please email myretreat3@aol.com

The faces and colors of Ukraine

I took the pictures below in the lovely area of Ukraine called Bukovyna. It is often referred to as 'the beech land' as its name stems from the Ukrainian 'buk' which means beech as in beech tree. Throughout many centuries the population of Bukovyna fought for social and national independence against Hungary, Austria, Romania, and Russia. Olga Kobylanska's dream finally came true when Ukrainians proclaimed their independence on August 26, 1991. It has been fascinating to watch this new country struggle, successfully, to its feet. Olga would have been proud!

The land of Bukovyna, where Olga lived, worked and died is a delightful world of nature with thick forests and rippling waterfalls. It is also rich in national culture and traditions, legends, and songs, and golden waves of corn fields. The Hutsels, folk costumes, wood-carving, embroidery and painted Easter eggs can still be found here. This area has also been rich with famous people; the talented Ukrainian poet Yury Fedkovich (1834-1888), the outstanding Ukrainian actor and film-producer Ivan Mykolaichuk (1941-1987), a famous composer Sydir Vorobkevich (1836-1903) and numerous contemporaries such as writer Myhailo Ivasyuk, famous author, singer Volodymyr Ivasyuk and many others from the world of dance, art and science.

I urge the Ukrainian readers of this website to submit original essays about their country. Good photography will also be welcome. We hope that this website will bring our American readers closer to this beautiful country and its people.

Cora Schwartz

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