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Interesting facts about Belarusian poet Maksim Bahdanovich

In Belarusian literature, there are such personalities whose fates attract researchers for decades. The famous son of Belarusian land Maksim Bahdanovich is among them. He was separated from his Motherland, where he always longed to be, in his very early childhood and managed to return there only at the end of his life. Today there are two Minsk museums, dedicated to the poet's lifestory: the one is in Trayetskaye (Trinity) suburb, one of the oldest surviving districts of the city, where Maksim was born; the other is in Rabkorauskaya Street, where he spent several last months of his life.

Veranika Karotkina, research assistant at Maxim Bagdanovich Literary Museum:
It is really one of the most interesting lifestories in Belarusian history. Born in the city of Minsk, no wonder that

Maksim was the first Belarusian to write urban poetry.

Nevertheless, he lost his native land soon after he lost his mother.

 

“There are in this world such far-rovers
Who believe not in God nor in devil,
Who delight in bright banners high over
the ships that in ocean ports revel.”

(Emigrants' Song (1914), translated by Vera Rich)

 

For a long time Maksim had to live in the heart of the Russian Empire, which didn't hamper him to fall in ardent love with Belarusian language and study it on his own.

Veranika Karotkina, research assistant at Maxim Bagdanovich Literary Museum:
Maksim was about ten when he got interested in Belarusian language. It was his aunts who introduced the little boy to folklore songs, fairytales and legends. Later he would study the language himself with the books from his father's library.

Even in his early years, Maksim stood out for his rebellious nature. When the boy's family moved from Nizhny Novgorod to Yaroslavl, he had certain difficulties with entering high school, a so-called “gymnasium”.

Veranika Karotkina, research assistant at Maxim Bagdanovich Literary Museum:
Maksim and his school fellow protested at the school entrance by setting off a firecracker. It was his friend, not Maksim, who was caught at the trick, but the future poet defended his companion so passionately that he was made repeat the school year.

It was the town where the poet met his lifetime muse Anna Kakuyeva, to whom he would dedicate his famous love poem Venus the Star (also known as Romance) (1912). It is this poem that has been the anthem of all Belarusian romantics for decades.

Veranika Karotkina, research assistant at Maxim Bagdanovich Literary Museum:
Anya resembled him somewhat his mother: like Maryya Apanasauna, she played the piano, was gifted at languages, so she had lots in common with Maksim. But the Kakuyevs were richer than the Bahdanovichs, and

both families were aware of the guy's illness, tuberculosis, at the moment.

“But the time of our parting draws near, ever nearer,
Thus does our fate, does our fortune appear,
Deeply, profoundly. I love you, my dear one,
But the time of our parting draws near.”

(Venus the Star (aka Romance) (1912), translated by Vera Rich)

 

Unhappy love just made Maksim write even more verses.

Just in two years he would publish his one and only book of poetry The Garland (1914) and, two years later, he came back to his native Minsk.

The dream came true.

Tacciana Labada, manager of Belaruskaya Hatka museum:
Maksim had always dreamt to watch Batlejka, folk puppet theatre, performed around Christmas time. He learnt about it from a Belarusian newspaper, Nasha Niva, when he was in Russia. When the poet came to Minsk, he was told that Batlejka is performed here, but never managed to watch it.

 

“Song bursts forth and gushes into
The great world, unfettered, free.
But who is it that will hear it?
The poet alone, maybe.”

(Above the White Down of the Cherries (1910), translated by Vera Rich)

 

In spite of serious tuberculosis, Maksim worked hard and never stopped writing. Though, this didn't last long.

In 1917 he was recommended to undergo a treatment in Yalta, Crimea, where he died the same year at the age of 27.

“Above the white down of the cherries...”, Veranica, The Weaver-Women of Slucak (The Weaver-Women of Slutsk) are widely known as songs even abroad today, keeping the memory of the poet's life.

A contemporary portrait of the poet based on his photo.