Cherniavsky, Mykola

Image - Mykola Cherniavsky

Cherniavsky, Mykola [Чернявський, Микола; Černjavs'kyj], b 3 January 1868 in the village of Torska Oleksiivka in Katerynoslav gubernia, d 28 November 1948 in Kherson. Writer, pedagogue, and zemstvo activist. A priest’s son, Cherniavsky graduated from the Katerynoslav Theological Seminary. From 1889 he taught at the church school in Bakhmut. In 1901–3 he worked as a zemstvo statistician in Chernihiv and then moved to Kherson, where he worked in the gubernial zemstvo until 1919 and then returned to teaching. Cherniavsky’s earliest poems are dated 1889. He published several collections of poetry, including Pisni kokhannia (Songs of Love, 1895), Donets'ki sonety (Donets Sonnets, 1898), and Zori (Stars, 1903). He frequently collaborated in publishing almanacs: Dubove lystia (Oak Leaves), Z potoku zhyttia (From the Stream of Life), and Persha lastivka (The First Swallow). His work appeared in such journals as Literaturno-naukovyi vistnyk, Kievskaia starina, the journal Pravda, and, in the Soviet period, in Zhyttia i revoliutsiia, Chervonyi shliakh, and Zoria (Dnipropetrovsk). His lyrical poetry is thematically rich, but much of it consists of love poetry that was composed under the influence of Taras Shevchenko and Ukrainian folklore. His historical poems are devoted to the Cossack period, particularly to the times of Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky. Cherniavsky was one of the masters of the sonnet in the pre-Soviet period: in Donets'ki sonety he described the daily life of the Donbas peasants and workers for the first time in Ukrainian poetry. He also wrote 80 short stories, 5 novellas, and memoirs. Although he welcomed Ukrainian independence, he did not work for its preservation. Under the Soviet regime Cherniavsky was not very active as a writer and in 1933 ceased to publish. Later he suffered political persecution, and his works were prohibited. He was rehabilitated after Joseph Stalin’s death, but Soviet critics continued to accuse him of Ukrainian nationalism. The fullest edition of his works is Tvory (Works, 10 vols, 1927–31). After his rehabilitation, a few short collections were published: Poeziï (Poetry, 1 vol, 1959) and Tvory (Works, 2 vols, 1966).

Ivan Koshelivets

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 1 (1984).]

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