Biography Ukrainka was born in 1871 in the town of Novohrad-Volynskyi of Ukraine. She was the second child of Ukrainian writer and publisher Olha Drahomanova-Kosach (better known under her literary pseudonym Olena Pchilka). Mykhaylo Petrovych Drahomanov, a well-known Ukrainian scientist, historian, philosopher, folklorist and public figure, was a brother of Drahomanova-Kosach and Lesya's uncle. Lesya had three younger sisters, Olha, Oksana, and Isydora, and a younger brother Mykhaylo.
Lesya was very similar to her father’s appearance and character. Despite the fact of many similarities, one thing in which Lesya and her father were different was that her father had a gift for mathematics, but hadn’t gift for languages. And on the contrary, Lesya had no gift for mathematics, but she knew English, German, French, Italian, Greek, Latin, Polish, Russian, Bulgarian, and her native Ukrainian.
Lesya Ukrainka learned how to read at the age of four, and she and her brother Mykhaylo could read foreign languages well enough to read literature in their original language. Ukrainka had a good knowledge of Russian, Polish, Bulgarian, Greek, Latin, French, Italian, German and English.
At age of thirteen, her first published poem, "Lily of the Valley," appeared in the journal Zoria in Lviv. It was here that she first used her nickname, which was suggested by her mother because in the Russian Empire, publications in Ukrainian language were forbidden. So Larysa Kosach's first collection of poetry had to be published secretly in western Ukraine and sneak into Kyiv under the nickname . At this time, Ukrainka was well on her way of becoming a pianist, but due to tuberculosis of the bones, she did not attend any outside educational establishment. Writing was to be the main sense of her life.
Her illness made it necessary for her to travel to places where the climate was dry, and as a result, spent extended periods of time in Germany, Austria, Italy, Bulgaria, Crimea, the Caucasus, and Egypt. She loved experiencing other cultures, which was evident in many of her literary works, such as The Ancient History of Oriental Peoples, originally written for her younger compatriots. The book was published in L'viv, and Ivan Franko was involved in its publication.
In 1897, while being treated in Yalta, Ukrainka met Serhiy Merzhynsky, an official from Minsk who was also receiving treatment for tuberculosis. The two fell in love, and her feelings for Merzhynsky were responsible for her showing a different side of herself. Examples include "Your Letters Always Smell of Withered Roses," "To Leave Everything and Fly to You," and "I'd Like to Wind around You Like Ivy," which were unpublished in her lifetime. Merzhynsky died with Ukrainka at his bedside on March 3, 1901. She wrote the entire dramatic poem "Oderzhyma" ("The Possessed") in one night at his deathbed.
The idea of the national liberation struggle develops together with the other Central theme - the role of the poet in the people's struggle for social and national freedom. The theme of the relationship between art and life, art and society, developed in Lesja Ukrainka in the numerous works.
CONTRA SPEM SPERO! *Без надії сподіваюсь (лат.) Гетьте, думи, ви хмари осінні! Тож тепера весна золота! Чи то так у жалю, в голосінні, Проминуть молодії літа? Ні, я хочу крізь сльози сміятись, Серед лиха співати пісні, Без надії таки сподіватись, Жити хочу! Геть думи сумні! Я на вбогім сумнім перелозі Буду сіять барвисті квітки, Буду сіять квітки на морозі, Буду лить на них сльози гіркі. І від сліз тих гарячих розтане Та кора льодовая, міцна, Може, квіти зійдуть, і настане Ще я для мене весела весна. Я на гору круту крем'яную Буду камінь важкий підіймать, І, несучи вагу ту страшную, Буду пісню веселу співать. В довгу, темную нічку невидну, Не стулю ні на хвильку очей, Все шукатиму зірку провідну, Ясну владарку темних ночей. Я не дам свому серденьку спати, Хоч кругом буде тьма та нудьга, Хоч я буду сама почувати, Що на груди вже смерть наляга. Смерть наляже на груд важенько, Сніг застеле сувора імла, Але дуже заб'ється серденько, —Може, лютую смерть подола. Так, я буду крізь сльози сміятись, Серед лиха співати пісні, Без надії таки сподіватись, Жити буду! Геть думи сумні! 2 травня 1890 р..
The poem Lesya Ukrainka Contra spem spero is one of the best not only in the creative work of the poetess, but also in the world literature. Though linked this poetry with the personal circumstances of Lesya Ukrainka, her illness, she inspired millions of readers, gives them the power of spirit . The main idea of the poem is the addition of spirit and hope of life after the black stripe is white. She says that if we believe in good, even when there is no belief, the world is changing for the better and all troubles will be easier to survive, to find when the last drop of hope. Lyrical hero is the author herself. Main - man, who wants to live happily and tries to ignore all the misfortune that had fallen on her shoulders. In this work the lyrical hero can be associated with Lesja Ukrainka.