"He was a pride of Belarus": Nil Hilevich funeral in Minsk

"He was a pride of Belarus": Nil Hilevich funeral in Minsk

Accidentally I heard a phrase of MP of the National Assembly of the 4th convocation Nina Kulsha. She said "it would be great if, instead of advertising in our public transport, we could hear at least a few times a day excerpts from the works of Belarusian classic writers." 

This phrase is particularly pressing now, when almost all classic writers of Belarus have gone. The last People's Poet of Belarus, Nil Hilevich, has passed away this week.

This is one figure (of course, great, but still only one), and it seems that the entire century of history of the Belarusian people is embodied in it. He comes from a peasant family. At the age of ten, he faced the horrors of WWII and saw how the flames devoured the infamous village of Khatyn, where dozens of people were burnt to death. 

He became a teacher and worked in a school and university. Then during 10 years, he led the Union of Writers and during another 10 years, represented the interests of ordinary Belarusians in the Supreme Council. Hilevich headed the Committee on Education and worked on the law on language. The latter was of particular significance for the poet. In language, he saw native and melodic whispering of trees and birds songs.

Mikhail Mitskevich, son of Yakub Kolas:
I was going to come to visit him, to talk, to see him. But I was late.

Irana Supei, Nil Hilevich sister:
The last time I met him was two weeks ago, in his house. There was no bitterness, resentment or pessimism.

Anastasia Benedisyuk, correspondent:
And this is that most famous house No36, at Karl Marx Street. This is the so-called writers' house. Here lived other famous artists Yanka Maur and Vladimir Karatkevich. And several days ago, the ambulance took the patriarch of Belarusian literature from this house. For the last few years, Nil Hilevich could not get out of his flat because of health problems but the doors of his apartment did not close for a minute.

He wrote to the last day. By hand. We can imagine that picture, with glasses and a magnifier... The handwriting becomes big. They say that it seemed Hilevich had gotten a second wind. Each year, Hilevivh published a book or even two. Recently, the poet was busy editing his 23-volume collection of works.

Hilevich's poems are included in Belarus' school curriculum and it is his works that help us get familiar with Bulgarian and Slovenian literature. Hilevich was a translator, probably the most fruitful of his kind.  

The memorial ceremony was held in the center of Minsk, in the St. Peter and Paul Cathedral, with lots of relatives, friends, colleagues and loyal readers of the classic writer coming to say goodbye.

Instead of the planned two the funeral lasted nearly four hours. There were several thousand people attending it. More tables were brought for flowers and there was no room for everyone inside. The President of Belarus sent condolences to the families and friends of the outstanding master.

Boris Svetlov, Minister of Culture of the Republic of Belarus:
Everything is here: happiness and unhappiness, honor and betrayal, and so on. All this was definitely in his life. The main thing is for us to remember that this was indeed our national poet. This is the figure of whom Belarus is proud.

Vyacheslav Volsky, writer:
He was a lovely man, sincere and attentive.

Nil Hilevich was buried on the Kalvaryja cemetery next to his wife. On the day of the farewell, it seemed that the whole land and nature, which he glorified in his works, was crying: it rained heavily and even hailed for some minutes.