Maksim Bahdanovic was a popular Belarusian poet, essayist, and translator. His fascination for Belarus and its history motivated him to explore his poetic side, which eventually culminated in making him one of the most famous Belarusian poets of all time. While he chose to compose his poems mainly in Belarusian, he also wrote essays and articles in Russian and Ukrainian. Besides earning a reputation as a distinguished novelist and poet, he became a prominent translator as well, producing Russian and Belarusian works of some highly acclaimed writers and poets, including Alexander Pushkin, Taras Shevchenko, Paul Verlaine, Friedrich Schiller, and Heinrich Heine, from Finnish, Ukrainian, French, German, and other languages. His first novel ‘Muzyka’ (Musician), published in a Belarusian daily ‘Nasha Niva’, was presented in a folk legend style, inspired by his father’s folklore stories and his extensive study of folklore books on Belarus. This talented poet’s his life was cut short by his sudden and untimely death at a young age of 25, due to tuberculosis. As such, ‘Vianok’ (The Garland) became his sole poetry collection published
Childhood & Early Life
Maksim Bahdanovic was born on December 9, 1891, in Minsk, Russian Empire (now Belarus), to school-teacher parents Adam Bahdanovic and Maryja Miakota. His father was a renowned Belarusian ethnographer and folklorist.
Soon after his birth, the family relocated to Hrodna in 1892. However, tragedy struck the family when his mother contracted tuberculosis and died in 1896. He was just five.
His father move to Nizhny Novgorod, where the young Maksim found the history of Belarus very interesting, which became his inspiration for poetry. He started writing poems as a child in Belarusian language.
Continue Reading Below
You May Like
He got involved with the Revolution of 1905 in the Russian Empire and participated in the strikes staged by his commilitodes.
He started contributing stories to ‘Nasha Niva’ (Our Soil), the first legal Belarusian newspaper launched by the government, in 1906.
He published his first prose piece ‘Muzyka’ (Musician), composed in a folk legend style, in 1907, in Nasha Niva.
Despite the rule followed by Nasha Niva to publish work under a pseudonym, he insisted on using his own name and became the first contributor to do so.
Gradually, he ventured into poetry, writing in both Russian and Belarusian, and getting them published in Nasha Niva in late 1907.
His family relocated to Yaroslavi in 1908, where he completed his school in 1911 and enrolled at the Juridical Lyceum for a law program.
While studying law, he took up work at a newspaper and tried his hand at writing scholarly articles and essays, which were published in Russian and Ukrainian-language periodicals.
In addition to writing prose and poetry, he excelled in translating many Latin, French, Finnish, Ukrainian and French works into Belarusian and Russian languages.
He translated the works of various eminent writers, such as Taras Shevchenko, Paul Verlaine, Emile Verhaeren, Alexander Pushkin, Heinrich Heine, and Friedrich Schiller, enabling readers to enjoy some of the greatest masterpieces.
Continue Reading Below
He released his first and only collection of poems titled ‘Vianok’ (The Garland) in 1913.
He returned to Minsk upon graduating from the Juridical Lyceum in 1916 and began working at a local governorate administration.
Awards & Achievements
He is considered to be the first poet to launch new forms of lyrical pieces in Belarusian literature.
Before he introduced his style of artistic expression of love for art, Belarusian poetry was a mere representation of literature and rhymed poems on socialist themes and contemporary settings.
Personal Life & Legacy
While working at Minsk, he fell ill with tuberculosis. In February 1917, he left for the Black Sea resort city, Yalta, situated in the Crimean peninsula, to receive treatment.
After three months of unsuccessful treatment, he died in Yalta on May 25, 1917, at the age of 25.
A complete volume of his entire poems was released in Belarus, during 1991-95.
A number of streets in Russia and Belarus are named in his honor.
Museums in Hrodna, Yaroslavi, and Minsk, including the Maksim Bahdanovic Literary Museum, are named after him