Lesya Ukrainka Museum in Yalta. Photo by Crimean photographer Anatoliy Kovalsky.
Lesya Ukrainka Museum in Yalta. Photo by Crimean photographer Anatoliy Kovalsky.

Larysa Petrovna Kosach, who will become known to the world under the literary pseudonym Lesya Ukrainka, spent much of his life traveling on three continents (Europe, Asia, Africa) in search of sleep. From a young age, the inquisitive girl was attracted by the “distant world”, the mysterious infinity of the sea and the weaving of roads, she even admitted that she dreamed of traveling around the world. However, the writer had to regret that due to her illness she visited numerous cities and resorts not as a “tourist” but as a “patient”. Lesya Ukrainka sometimes explained her love for travel by the nature inherited from her ancestors, whom she considered, according to the legends of her relatives, “the backwaters of the Greek family”. It is not without reason that from the height of a century the writer began to be called a “distant princess”, mysterious and unattainable. However, in search of a healing climate, most often her roads led to the Crimea, which became the second home of her talent. Here she worked on many works of art,which will bring her recognition among a cohort of the most famous masters of the word. Her poetic cycles “Crimean Memories” (1890-1891) and “Crimean Reviews” (1897) are full of travels to the peninsula. Under the Crimean sky, she completed her debut play The Blue Rose and the famous Cassandra, wrote much of the drama Rufin and Priscilla, which she considered perhaps the most important work in her work, created a dramatic dialogue “Aisha and Mohammed”, which testifies to her deep interest in the culture of the Crimean Tatar people, the story “Over the Sea”, which depicts the resort of Yalta in the late nineteenth century. New ideas were born here, many letters were written to close people, so it is not surprising that being in different parts of the world, she often returned to the Crimea in her mind, he emerged in her memories and imagination. “I saw three autumns in Yalta…”,- the writer wrote in one of the letters. In total, Lesya Ukrainka spent almost three years living in the Crimea.

In the Crimean chronicle of Lesya Ukrainka three periods are clearly traced, the first two of them belong to the last century (1890-1891 and 1897-1898), and the third falls on the beginning of the XX (1907-1908). Lesya Ukrainka first set foot on the Crimean peninsula as a nineteen-year-old girl on the advice of Kyiv doctors. Together with her mother, writer and ethnographer Olena Pchilka, in July 1890 Lesya had high hopes for climatotherapy in Saki, where exhausting procedures awaited her. From the memoirs of Lesya’s sister Olga it is known that the poetess told her relatives, “what a hellish heat there was, what boredom, how hard it was to endure the mud baths.” In addition, Olena Pchilka fell ill with malaria in Saki and had to be cared for by her caring daughter. Depressed mood receded as soon as they moved to Evpatoria,where for ten days the girl felt winged, enjoying the bathing prescribed to her by the doctors. At that time it was claimed that Evpatoria is the best bathing resort, because in a shallow bay the water heats up easily, and the velvet-sandy bottom of the bay was no less famous. The beauty of the sea had a very positive impact on the creative state of Lesya Ukrainka, who wrote several poems here, full of admiration for the amazing environment.

One of the poems was written in the middle of the sea, on a steamer, on which the mother and daughter were going to Sevastopol. Thus began the first tourist route in the Crimea, which Elena Pchilka gave her daughter to complete treatment. After Sevastopol, they visited Bakhchisarai to see for themselves the historical, legendary places celebrated in literature. First of all, the Ukrainians planned to visit the Bakhchisaray Palace, which at that time was not marked by its former splendor. Olena Pchilka stated with sadness: “That palace was already completely ragged – there were no utensils, and no home bench in the large room of the khan, for the former meeting, there were only wooden narrow benches under the walls”. However, Lesya Ukrainka revived the palace itself, its famous cemetery,and the unique architecture of the city thanks to a subtle historical and cultural ear and imagination.Thus were born the poems “Bakhchisaray”, “Bakhchisaray Palace”, “Bakhchisaray Tomb”, with their special oriental atmosphere. Lesya Ukrainka, in particular, was fascinated by the national clothes of the locals, which is confirmed by the poem “Tatarochka”, in which a passing girl is surprisingly warmly depicted. She was also interested in the crafts of the Crimean Tatars, especially embroidered towels. Peculiarities of the works of Crimean Tatar masters were reflected in the ethnographic studies of Olena Pchilka. And the poetess herself sketched ornament after ornament, continuing the collection of this ethnographic collection next summer. She later sent it to Uncle Mikhail Drahomanov,a professor at Sofia University, emphasizing in the letter that the Tatar samples collected in the Crimea were “very good, even too similar to the Ukrainian ones.” In the letter she depicts the most commonly used figures: crosses, stars, meander, which confirms the words of Olena Pchilka: “Who will say whether the sewing and patterns came to us, or maybe the Ukrainian prisoners have left behind the tradition of such embroidery.

Portrait of Lesya Ukrainka. Photo by Crimean photographer Anatoliy Kovalsky.
Portrait of Lesya Ukrainka. Photo by Crimean photographer Anatoliy Kovalsky.

After a difficult operation in Vienna in the winter of 1891, Lesia again needed a coastal climate to regain her lost strength. At the end of May, Lesya and her mother and sister Olga set off from Kolodyazhny on a long journey to the Crimea, which included stops in Kaniv and Katerynoslav. Arriving in Sevastopol, the travelers immediately went to Evpatoria, where on June 10 in a letter to M. Pavlyk the poet wrote: “Finally achieved a permanent home” (as she calls Michra’s house on Fontannaya Street), where she will spend almost two months of summer. Last summer, Lesya Ukrainka came to the conclusion that it is not worth wandering around the Crimea, “because bathing is better than the local one,” and she was right. Soon she sincerely thanked the sea in one of her letters: deserted “.From Bakhchisarai mother and daughter returned to Sevastopol. And from there began another romantic journey – to the southern coast of Crimea, “horses across the kayaks to Yalta.” The crossing of the Crimean mountains rewarded the travelers of that time with a stop near the Baidar Gate, built by the architect K. Ashliman. It was from them that the sea distance became accessible to travelers, who at one time recorded even tourist guides, such as: lies below, as if in a deep abyss near the boundless sea. Picturesque Crimean places were complemented by exotic names of settlements, myths and legends, echoes of which take place in Lesya Ukrainka’s poem “Merdven”. Yalta, where the steamer had to wait for two days, also reflected in the poetic diary of a young traveler. The city then had only four and a half thousand inhabitants,but every year it grew and became a popular resort. However, the guests of Yalta mostly evaluated it critically, and Lesya Ukrainka herself gave the following impression: writer PD Boborykin). According to researchers, Volyn women stopped at the Edinburgh Hotel, and the next day they found VK Tsibulsky’s dacha on Swimming pool. This house in Yalta attracted fans of the popular poet S. Ya. Nadson, who spent the last months of his short life here. Lesya Ukrainka knew and loved the poems of the poet whose childhood took place in Kyiv.According to Olena Pchilka, “the dacha left a very sad impression, lonely, gloomy, so vague that I can’t imagine a more gloomy place… Dark tones of paint, a melancholy tower, withered greenery, an overgrown garden with a sprawling weeping willow in the foreground over a solitary bench that fell silent.We also find this mood in Lesya Ukrainka’s poem “Nadson’s Home in Yalta”, which seems to foretell that the author will have to look for her “troubled homes” in this city more than once. On August 22, 1890, Kosachi’s mother and daughter boarded the deck of a steamer bound for Odessa. But they said goodbye to Crimea for a short time.

However, her sister Olga could not bear the Crimean heat, and her mother was forced to return home with her in a few days. Instead, the younger sister was visited by her older brother Mykhailo, a student of the Faculty of Physics and Mathematics of the University of Dorpat on vacation. Curious and thirsty for knowledge, in the summer of 1891 Mikhail traveled on foot through the Crimea. He brought new magazines to his sister, their impressions and communication were filled with various topics, which always characterized their friendly relations. Both ‘s favorite pastime was simply swimming in the sea. “I’m still good in this sun and sea air,” she shares her mood with her family. “… Here the sun and the sea with their brilliance and play give me courage and hope.” In the evenings,the brother and sister could stare at the surf for hours, sometimes they took a boat and swam into the sea. However, after her brother’s departure, loneliness depressed the poetess, and she soon contracted typhoid fever. Olena Pchilka immediately left for the Crimea and in early August, weakened, with a headscarf on her shaved head, transported her daughter to Bessarabia, where in the village of Shaba near Ackerman she was to strengthen after an illness.

Fragments of the Evpatoria summer of 1891 can be guessed in three marine poems by Lesya Ukrainka (“Sleepless Night”, “On a Boat”, “Negoda”), which were first published in the Lviv magazine “Zorya” (1893) with a dedication to his brother Mykhailo. The final cycle “Crimean Memories” became the pearl of Lesya Ukrainka’s first poetry collection “On the Wings of Songs”. This book also published the poem “Moon Legend”, completed in Evpatoria, dedicated to Olena Pchilka’s mother.

Lesia Ukrainka’s second Crimean period was caused by the aggravation of the disease and the need to change the climate. On the eve of the trip, the poet notes: “This is the first time that I go to the treatment willingly.” At her own request, this time she chooses the southern coast of Crimea, enjoying the shade of greenery somewhere in the sunny “space between Yalta and Alupka.” On June 14, 1897, in the weekly supplement to the Yalta newspaper, which provided lists of visitors, we find the names of Larysa Petrovna Kosach and Olena Antonivna Teslenko-Prykhodko (aunts) who accompanied her. Visitors first settled in the hotel “Mariino” Bentkovsky, located on the Embankment. However, tired of the stuffiness, gunpowder and restless noise of the city-holiday, Lesya and her aunt soon move to Chukurlar, closer to Livadia.It was a quiet green place with rich vineyards and cottages, which were later destroyed. MP Ogranovich, a colony of 20 houses was arranged here. Chukurlar’s advantage was his own sea shore, medicinal grapes; vacationers were provided with furniture, lunches and servants.

After two weeks of rest, Lesya’s health improved significantly, only her sore leg bothered her. Gradually tanned, as she joked, became the color of “terracotta”. Swimming in the sea gave a feeling of strength and agility of the body. When the aunt left and the poetess was left alone, the period of storms began. But soon the weather changed for the better, and Lesya Ukrainka’s daily life was more diverse thanks to the guests – this time her brother Mykhailo came with his wife Shura (known in literature as the writer Hrytsko Hryhorenko) and her mother AI Sudovshchykova. In such company, Lesya’s emotional harmony returned, and with it the enjoyment of the environment: “It’s very beautiful and good here,” she says in a letter to her sister. it’s just a consolation, worth the gods. “Mykhailo Kosach took dozens of photos of local landscapes.In one of the surviving photos, the poetess is photographed in a colorful Ukrainian national costume against the backdrop of Crimean nature.

It is known from Lesya Ukrainka’s letters that she seldom went outside the “colony”, mostly lying under trees or on the seashore, sometimes walking among the vineyards. Perhaps the greatest impression in that distant summer was left by a journey by horse-drawn carriage, in a wicker four-seater “basket”, to the hills of Ai-Petri. It was there that the poetess drew attention to the saxifraga flower (which is mostly called mountain edelweiss) and suggested that the poets give it another name – lomikamin, seeing in it the amazing power of life.

In the summer of 1897, a significant event for Lesya Ukrainka took place in Yalta, where she met Serhiy Merzhynsky, who would become one of her closest friends. In a few years, his early death will be a great ordeal for the writer, a real dramatic masterpiece was created near the deathbed of his beloved – “Oderdyma”, and her best intimate lyrics were a response to the death of Sergei Merzhinsky.

In autumn, after the departure of relatives and acquaintances, Lesya Ukrainka’s life became more monotonous. Although a young student of Moscow’s medical courses shared an apartment with her, no special friendship arose between them. Then Lesya plunges headlong into reading, in particular with the help of periodicals Yalta reading room and public library. We know that it responded to the interest of local readers to the works of Shevchenko and requested the mother: ” … the god have come in these people’s reading room” poet “, people ask really, to the following address: Yalta, People’s Library, postage UL., Sergei Vasilyevich Stakhanov. That really needs to be done . ”

After the end of the “season” Lesya, feeling the beneficial effect of the Crimea on her health, decides to continue his stay “in the Tatar region.” In autumn, the bustle of the resort in Yalta usually subsidized, and those who remained were collected in the city center. Lesya Ukrainka was also looking for a new home, she was more and more convinced that she should spend the winter near the warm sea. September 1897 on the South Coast was famous: “Today I went by boat to Yalta and did not think that it was September outside – we read in Lesin’s letter – in the evening again a little wind, but still everyone drinks tea outside, and everyone’s windows are open. ”

In Yalta, Lesya Ukrainka found an apartment near the sea, on the street. Catherine. Lishchynsky’s dacha attracted her with the sunny color of the wooden decor. From her Yalta letters we learn that she was engaged in needlework, occasionally went to the theater, gave private lessons to two Yalta high school students, whom she calls “Mykosy”, because the Kosach family called her younger brother Mykola. The addressee especially mentions the grammar school student Lenya Razumov, with whose family she communicated. She regretted that no one responded to her ad, which periodically appeared in the newspaper “Yalta”: “Chtitsa, knowing 6 languages., Looking for work in the city.”

Lesya Ukrainka Museum in Yalta. Photo by Crimean photographer Anatoliy Kovalsky.
Lesya Ukrainka Museum in Yalta. Photo by Crimean photographer Anatoliy Kovalsky.

Olena Pchilka comes to Yalta for the Christmas holidays because her daughter felt extremely lonely. In memory of the holidays spent together, Lesya Ukrainka was photographed with her mother in the famous Orlova city photo studio. Another photo has been preserved, in which the two of them stand on the threshold of a new apartment, which was immediately found by Olena Pchilka, trying to comfortably arrange a sick Lesya. It was a villa with the poetic name “Iphigenia”, the decoration of Vinogradnaya Street, which was conspicuous due to the elegant balcony, columns, portico, eye-catching copies of antique sculptures, specially ordered in Greece by the owner, doctor KR Oatmeal .However, the house was temporarily rented by a young doctor MS Derizhanov, who became Lesya Ukrainka’s personal doctor and friend.With the onset of cold weather, Lesya Ukrainka’s physical condition deteriorated. ” … Here I came to such a state, – she admits in a letter to her sister, – that she lay down in the city parks, plums on the street, from attacks of dizziness …“. In moments of despair, when the writer thought that she was about to fall on the road and be crushed by the cross, her constant desire to be useful to others helped her to return to active life. Correspondence sometimes brought consolation. In Yalta , Lesya Ukrainka received a telegram from the Kyiv Literary and Artistic Society, which congratulated her on being awarded the prize for the short story “Loud Strings.” Ivan Franko invited the poetess to collaborate in the new magazine “Literary-Scientific Bulletin”. author accompanies the poems sent to the magazine with a comment: ” ” Don’t be surprised by their monotony, because I’m here in exile, and my muse is with me . ”

In a new setting, the poet again heard the call of the muse, here she wrote her iconic work “Iphigenia in Tavrida”, for the first time mastering the genre of dramatic poem, which will be decisive for her creative heritage. Music was always played in the circle of the friendly Derizhanov family. Lesya Ukrainka willingly helps to disassemble Beethoven’s “Kreutzar’s Sonata” to Derizhanov’s wife Katyusha, introduces her to Ukrainian music. On Easter, Lesya was visited by her two sisters, Olga and Oksana, who also brought a gift for the doctor ordered by the older sister – a shirt embroidered with a Podolsk pattern, which was very much to the liking of the moved doctor. Almost every day, the caring Lesya Ukrainka sends the sisters on excursions, first of all to the places she has visited before: Alupka, Gurzuf, Chukurlar,Wuchang-Su waterfall. The Kosachi holiday was celebrated at Villa Iphigenia together with the Derizhanovs, Easter eggs, which Lesya Ukrainka painted according to the national tradition, made a great impression on the Armenian society.

Lesya Ukrainka’s society soon grew, as a Ukrainian theater troupe (entrepreneur IM Naida-Rudenko) came to Yalta on tour to give performances at the local theater for a month. The writer herself watched the play “Limerivna” with the participation of the famous actress Maria Zankovetska. In the evenings, together with other actors, “Queen of the Ukrainian Stage” Zankovetska and Lesya Ukrainka’s old friend Maria Starytska visited Villa Iphigenia, where lively conversations and discussions took place, and plans for staging Lesya Ukrainka’s first completed drama “Blue Rose” were born.

At the end of May 1898, the writer said goodbye to Yalta, leaving the house of a hospitable family. Two years later, she learns of the death of the Yalta doctor Derizhanov (buried in the John Chrysostom Cemetery), whom she always remembered with deep respect. Lesya Ukrainka brings manuscripts of new works from the Crimea, which will soon be published in periodicals and on the pages of her new collection “Thoughts and Dreams”.

The third period in the Crimean chronicle of Lesya Ukrainka is caused by the illness of her friend Kliment Kvitka. Always devoted to her friends, the poetess decides to send him from cold Kyiv to the south. She had known Kliment Kvitka for almost ten years. A lawyer by profession, by vocation he was a musicologist-folklorist, and this brought young people closer. In March 1907, the two of them left for Sevastopol. They stayed at the Kista Hotel, but a local doctor advised them to settle on the South Shore. It was difficult to get to Alupka in the lando, but later they had to seek refuge in Yalta. First settled in the hotel D. Bigun “Yalta” on the street. Garden, near the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. The poet rarely left the apartment, except for the post office and pharmacies.Three weeks later,Lesya Ukrainka and Kliment Kvitka moved to Rozanov’s dacha on Gorsky Avenue and resumed the usual rhythm of life, including reading a lot. The writer gradually takes up the pen, at the same time there are thoughts about the feasibility of making the Crimea his permanent home for a long time. This prospect seemed quite real, as Kvitka’s request to transfer him to work in Yalta was granted by the Crimean court.

In the summer, Lesya Ukrainka and Klyment Kvitka got married in Kyiv and are returning to the Crimean peninsula. The couple spent their honeymoon in Balaklava, near Sevastopol, which became popular due to a cozy bay. Lesya Ukrainka writes to Borys Hrinchenko about her life tribe: “If I don’t eat grapes, I write.”

In early October 1907, Lesya Ukrainka and Kliment Kvitka moved to Yalta, where they rented an apartment in the cottage of Mr. Tereshchenko on the street. Darsanivska. The work of the assistant district investigator did not bring satisfaction to Kvitka, instead he continues to record Ukrainian folk songs from his wife, a collection of which entitled “Folk Melodies from the Voice of Lesya Ukrainka” was published in Kyiv in 1917. It would seem that nothing prevented the couple from taking root in Yalta. life, growing circle of acquaintances. But soon Lesya Ukrainka learned that her disease was progressing. On the advice of Yalta doctor P. Tamburer, the couple urgently went for a consultation in Berlin, where Professor Israel advised to change the climate to a hotter one. In the Crimea, however, the couple stayed for several more months.It was decided to use Kliment Kvitka’s vacation for his recovery in Evpatoria, in the new sanatorium “Primorsky”.

After a stay in the sanatorium, temporary stops in hotels in Sevastopol and Yalta, the last Crimean “permanent home” for Lesya Ukrainka was Khoroshavina’s apartment on Lomonosov Boulevard. In this house, preserved to this day, the poet last met with his father, who accompanied his daughter and son-in-law, hoping that with his help the young couple will buy an apartment in Yalta. But then they were forced to build new plans, primarily related to Georgia. Farewell notes are increasingly heard in Lesya Ukrainka’s letters. “Yalta still cured one of us: Klim seems to have recovered solidly, and maybe he has recovered, thank Crimea for that.” However, another case detained the couple in the Crimea. It was a project of recording Ukrainian kobzars using the technologies of that time, aimed at perpetuating the people ‘s genius.

While still in Yevpatoria, Lesya Ukrainka agreed to take part in the expedition of such famous folklore experts as Filaret Kolessa, Volodymyr Hnatyuk, Opanas Slastyon. She placed an ad in the magazine “Ridny Krai” hoping to find full support for the action. The poet took on the material costs of this necessary work mainly (incognito), spending a considerable amount received from her parents as a dowry after marriage. In the summer, the expedition led by Filaret Kolessa left for Poltava region. Lesya Ukrainka herself learned that the famous kobzar of the Kharkiv school Hnat Honcharenko lived in Sevastopol. Having ordered a phonograph and wax rollers for audio recordings by mail, Lesya Ukrainka invites a bandura player and records almost his entire repertoire for three days. Satisfied with the results of the work,the poet notes in a letter to Filaret Kolessa: “Personally, I do not regret the time or hassle put into this case… kobzar Goncharenko is an unusual, interesting person both ethnographically and even fictionally.” Lesya Ukrainka sends nineteen rollers with the collected materials to the Ethnographic Commission of the Scientific Society named after Shevchenko. Sends the texts of the recorded thoughts in a separate parcel. When the first series of Melodies of Ukrainian Folk Dumas, edited by Filaret Kolessa, was published, Lesya Ukrainka greeted her with the words: “Now we can truly say: ‘Our song, our thought will not die, will not perish!'” It is noteworthy that during this action Lesya Ukrainka’s melodies were recorded. So the voice of the great writer, preserved for posterity, is like the last gift of Yalta.

Kobzar Dumas became a farewell chord of Lesya Ukrainka’s stay in the Crimea, from where she went “to the Caucasus on the December sea with the Nord-Ost.” A few more times, bypassing the Crimean shores during sea voyages, she will look at the outlines of the peninsula, remembering the days and nights spent here.

The century resounded, but the weaving of Her traces remained on this “rich” land. As the poet Moses Fishbein wrote, Crimea is “the place of our meeting with you, Larissa Petrovna.” So it was and so it will always be.

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The project was implemented with the support of the Ukrainian Cultural Foundation

Svitlana Kocherga

Doctor of Philology, Associate Professor of the National University "Ostroh Academy"

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