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Hrygori Skovoroda

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Hrygori Skovoroda

The 18th century Ukrainian philosopher, mystic, poet Hryhori Skovoroda, author of the collection of poems Garden of Divine Songs as well as several prose works, represents the end of the Ukrainian baroque, a period marked by a keen fascination with emblematics. The very course of Skovoroda's life is emblematic, forming a circle. He fondly remembered the place of his birth as a land of woods, hills, springs, and gardens.

Hryhori Skovoroda was born in the family of a poor Cossack in the village of Chornukhy near Lubny in 1722. He studied at the Kyivan Academy (1734-1741, 1744-1745, 1751-1753) but did not complete the full program. From 1741 to 1744 he was a member of the imperial choir in the capital of the Russian Empire. He spent the period from 1745 to 1750 in Hungary and may have traveled elsewhere in Europe as well. In 1750-1751 he taught poetics in Pereyas-lav. For most of the period from 1753 to 1759 Skovoroda was a tutor in the family of a landowner. From 1759 to 1769, with interruptions, he taught such subjects as poetry, syntax, Greek, and ethics at the Kharkov College. After an attack on his course on ethics, he in 1769 decided to leave teaching for the last time. In the final quarter of his life he lived with various friends, both rich and poor.

This last period was the time of his great philosophic works. In this period as well, but particularly earlier, he wrote poetry and letters in Russo-Slavonic and in Latin and did a few translations from Latin. A lover of music, he played several instruments and composed songs.

Upon his death in 1794 he was buried, it is said, in a garden. Skovoroda reportedly asked that his epitaph read:
"The world chased me but could not catch me".


 
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