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Robert Burns Lives!
Peter Kormylo, Hanna Dyka, and Tayisa Khryplyva

Edited by Frank R. Shaw, FSA Scot, Dawsonville, GA, USA

For two of the last three years I have had the distinct pleasure and privilege to speak at The University of Glasgow’s Robert Burns Conference sponsored by The Centre for Robert Burns Studies. I have met some exciting new friends, men and women, who are Burns scholars in the best sense of the words. Sir Kenneth Calman, Dr. Natalia Kaloh Vid, Professor Nigel Leask,  Michael Morris  and a trinity of Ukrainian speakers, Peter Kormlo, Hanna Dyka and Taya Khryplyva, who spoke as few can about there work and love for Burns. Two of them, Peter and Hannah compiled the 295 pages of the book, Robert Burns Selected Works.

During our break for lunch they graciously presented me with a copy of their book. Later, as I am prone to do, I got around to asking them to write something for the pages of Robert Burns Lives! and they willingly accepted. Finally, we have the following for you. Also, I was introduced to John Clark via email. John is important to the book as he designed the magnificent cover for the book. It is something special! I do not speak Ukrainian but I really do not have to since the book is written in English on the left hand side of the page and in Ukrainian on the other side of the page. Below you will follow their connection to Burns through some emails where they share their love of Burns with me.

Unfortunately the article from Tayisa Khryplyva did not come in time to be included in this chapter. As soon as it does, I will have Alastair include it for our readers.

Next week I will share with you a most interesting account of how John Clark, well known Dumfries artist and published poet, designed the book cover for Robert Burns Selected Works  (FRS:1.2.14)


Dear Frank,

The Collected Ukrainian Translations

Some years ago I spent a decade as Honorary Librarian of the Burns Howff Club. During that time I became aware that many Burnsians knew of Russian translations of the Bard’s poetry and attributed the best translations to Samuil Marshak.

Marshak once visited our Burns Howff Club here in Dumfries during the years of the Cold War and was lauded as the prime Russian translator. This influenced many to focus only on his work. At that time the average Brit thought everyone in the Soviet Union was Russian and had scant knowledge of the subjugated republics.

As a Ukrainian Scot (mixed marriage), I grew up knowing of many Ukrainian litterateurs over the last two hundred years who had translated much of Burns’ poetry into their own language. You know the rest. I was almost pre-destined to meet Hanna in Kyiv (Kiev) and from that moment we shared an enthusiasm for Burns. In no time we planned and delivered the first Collected Ukrainian Translations.

What is so unique about the book is that it is a serious and generously sponsored attempt to draw together quality works by disparate, nationally respected Ukrainian poets, translators and litterateurs. Burns Lives!

Ukrainians take their poetry very seriously-ask any about Shevchenko, Franko or Lesia Ukrainka. But also ask them of other national poets and they will all know about Burns .Almost all Ukrainian schoolchildren at one time could offer a  few lines of “ My heart’s in the Highlands…”.

The book is about to be republished in hard back copy with the added translations that we left out because of restricted page volume in the first edition. The few remaining (collectors’) copies of the book remain with two organisations. The Friends of Scotland in Ukraine and reciprocally the Friends of Ukraine’s Scottish Foundation. Past President Gordon Johnston ,the present Hon. Howff Librarian has some on the club’s website.

I have attached Hanna Dyka and Tayisa Khryplyva’s presentation at the 2013 Glasgow Conference for you to distribute to any students of Robert Burns who are researching his translated poetry. Both Hanna and Tayisa have thriving junior Burns Clubs in Kyiv and Ploske, (Poltava region).Taya’s club is sponsored by the New Cumnock Club and the Howff sponsors Hanna’s.

I have attached Hanna Dyka and Tayisa Khryplyva’s presentation at the 2013 Glasgow Conference for you to distribute to any students of Robert Burns who are researching his translated poetry. Both Hanna and Tayisa have thriving junior Burns Clubs in Kyiv and Ploske, (Poltava region).Taya’s club is sponsored by the New Cumnock Club and the Howff sponsors Hanna’s.


The memory of Burns plays a major, vibrant role here in Dumfries. Although born in Ayrshire I believe the most interesting chapters of his life were played out in Dumfriesshire during the intensely political times of the French revolution .Dumfries was polarised-political suspicion was everywhere and the domestic life of the poet reads like a spy novel. Clandestine discussions of liberty, equality and fraternity were his daily intellectual meat. As  an exciseman having “taken the King’s shilling” he could have been hanged for seditious adherence to sympathy for La Revolution!.

Burns certainly lives here! Our numerous Burns clubs in Dumfries continue the debate to this day!

Was Burns radical or reactionary? This is a great topic for club debate as it forces his followers to read even more about his circumstances. The argument continues and draws in so many different people- poets and philosophers, ”ploughmen” and politicians!

We know that Burns certainly “lives” here in Dumfries. Every July 29th a small club called The Royal Dumfries Volunteers meets on the anniversary of his death. They meet in the back snug room of the Globe Inn, Burns’ “favourite howff”, where the Bard would spend evenings with his cronies, devouring the news brought fresh from Edinburgh by stagecoach. The room is atmospheric, still intact, with his chair fast by the ingle. On one wall hangs the painting of his funeral, attended by thousands. At 7.30 p.m.the Volunteers dine and then spend the rest of the evening, reciting, singing and listening to the pipes. Before midnight they start the debate that goes into the wee, sma’ hours and every year they leave the Globe Inn with matters still unresolved .Who was the real Robert Burns?

The email concludes: “I wish you Frank, and all your readers, the very best of health-and as they say here, ‘May your lum reek wi’ ither fowks coal!’”

Peter Kormylo, Past President & Hon.Member of the Burns Howff Club of Dumfries


As for my way to Robert Burns, it began in childhood. The first poem I learnt by heart and recited was “ My Heart’s in the Highlands ” which appealed to me both thanks to  the magic pictures they evoked in my imagination  and thanks to the melody of rhyming words, of strange but at the same time enchanting sounds. Most of all I was fascinated with the way this poem and other ones sounded in the original. I also copied the Bard’s portrait in my notebook with the data of his short but fruitful life.

I could not have imagined that Robert Burns’s poetry would accompany me during all my life. I could not have dreamed of having the privilege of being acquainted with true Burnsians, a special race of people, of belonging to the World Federation of Robert Burns Clubs   

It did not even occur to me to attempt translating his poems into Ukrainian. Much later it was Robert Burns’s poem “On politics”  which made me realize how topical his thoughts are for our modern world and I could not but paraphrase it in Ukrainian.  

Since then every poem which I have translated adds something else for my understanding of the Bard as a great person, poet and thinker who has a lot in common with our Ukrainian National Bard Taras Shevchenko.  The world of Robert Burns’s poetry really captures you in no time. However, it takes you years to appreciate it properly and to approach the understanding of it.

The simple lines of his poems and songs are not flourished with extravagant stylistic devices, yet they are full of energy of their own – both the energy of thoughts and feelings. His works can be regarded as quanta of energy as from the moment they penetrate us they start the life of their own creating new images, associations and thoughts. .His poetry is an eternal phenomenon as his works are the light for us to see the way in the modern complicated world of love and hatred, fidelity and mischief, devotion and treason. His dreams of decent life for honest people living in harmony with nature and with each other loving the world we are born to are our dreams and our goal.

Grant me, indulgent Heaven, that I may live,
To see the miscreants feel the pains they give;
Deal Freedom's sacred treasures free as air,
Till Slave and Despot be but things that were.

(Volunteers with John Cairney  July 2012)

I wish you Frank, and all your readers, the very  best of health and happiness-and as they say here, ”May your lum reek wi’  ither fowks’ coal !”

Peter Kormylo

Past President & Hon.Member of the Burns Howff Club of Dumfries
Hon.Member of Greenock and Dumfries Burns Club
Alias Captain John Hamilton of the Royal Dumfries Volunteers
Member of the Robert Burns Guild of Speakers

by Taya Khryplyva  

            Robert Burns. What is he and what he means for me?! That’s a question! At first sight it is very easy question and at the same time it is very difficult. It seems to me Burns accompanies me all my conscious life.


          Everybody knows that Robert Burns is Scottish celebrity, its National Hero and Bard. He is the Poet, the Man, the Legend who is known to lots of people even to that who are not keen on poetry. He is the best greatest poet Scotland has ever produced. One famous American said: “His name is dearer to us, to  a greater number of hearts than any other except Christ”.


          Burns popularity is growing from year to year. He is a man “for all seasons”. It is impossible to imagine Scotland without Robert Burns. He died long ago but the poetry he left behind is timeless. It seems to me the poet is considered to be national icon and international phenomenon. His works circled the globe.


          As for me this ordinary lad is a symbol of spirit of the whole nation, embodiment of dignity, self-respect, glory and fame of Scotland. He made a great contribution into world literature and he is unique in many ways.


           My experience with Burns and his poetry began about 40 years ago when I was a student. But it was only a general knowledge about him.


          Once, reading “Evening Poltava” (newspaper) I fell upon an interesting article about monuments to a great Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko overseas. A lot of letters were written by me and sent to different countries abroad. Unfortunately there were hardly responses. But from the letters it became evident to me that the majority of overseas monuments honouring any poet were for the Scottish poet Robert Burns. To my mind such information wasn’t accidental (maybe it was the sign from the heavens that it was high time to come closer to Burns) because both poets Ukrainian and Scottish have much in common.


          This is how it all began. Then I came upon a volume of Burns poetry and spent much time reading his poems during the long cold winter months. I also had contacts with many Burnsians who sent me their impressions, knowledge, books, leaflets and many things connected with great poet. The president of Burns Club of Milwaukee city (America) was such an admire of Robert Burns that she donated me a small but valuable library. That was the beginning of the idea to create Burns Museum and junior Burns Club in my school.  So Robert Burns arrived to the village of Ploske, Ukraine, in the hearts and minds of my students and me in 2009, the year of his 250th birthday, the year when we give life to Burns Museum and Club. The Museum is not full of artifacts. But if any Burns Club or any person donate any thing concerning Burns, our museum will grow and turn into a large exhibition of poet’s life and poetry, gladden visitors and become a corner of a real freedom-loving Scotland in a small Ukrainian village school.


          This past January I had the most fantastic and incredible adventure in my life – I visited Scotland, the land which gave birth to a great poet. I walked the streets and  Burns’ paths which still remember his footsteps and where everything breathes by him. I also had the pleasure and privilege to speak at the World Burns Conference at the Glasgow University. And it was a real surprise and happiness when I saw a keen interest of gathering in my speech and deeds of our Burns Club.


          In conclusion I would like to say that Robert Burns is dear to me because he captured the imagination of the whole world with his message of love, freedom, nature, human dignity. He is dear to me, a lady of another epoch and another life style, because he is a real patriot of his country, a lovely son of ordinary people and Nature. He is dear to me because he teaches me to live in harmony with myself and Mother-Nature, to love and be loved, to value that I have. He is also dear to me of his poetry that shows me the way of struggle for freedom, democracy, human rights and dignity in such difficult time for my native Ukraine.


          And finally I want to say that I am proud of having an opportunity to serve as the President of our school Burns Club. I hope that our Museum and Club will continue to stimulate interest in Burns and his poetry or start it if there was no before. I’m sure there are lots of people like me who like reading Burns will join us.

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