Khvylovy expressed in his works his own concept of Ukraine's renaissance spawned by the Revolution of 1917. Ukraine could overcome its slavishness and provinciality and ‘catch up to other nations,’ he believed, only by unreservedly breaking ‘away from Moscow’ and orienting itself psychologically and culturally on the progressive aspects of ‘Europe.’ As an alternative to both ‘Moscow’ and ‘Europe’ Khvylovy proposed the romantic idea of an ‘Asiatic renaissance’—an awakening of Asia and other colonial, underdeveloped parts of the world. This renaissance was to begin in Ukraine, situated as it was between the West and the East, and spread to all parts of the world. Like Mykola Zerov, he considered Ukraine's orientation towards ‘psychological Europe’ a necessary precondition for Ukraine to fulfill its messianic role in this renaissance. As a romantic writer and thinker, Khvylovy believed that a ‘vitalized romanticism’ (romantyka vitaizmu) would be the literary style of the first period of the Asiatic renaissance.
The nucleus of the group of the Ukrainian Neoclassicists of the 1920s consisted of Mykola Zerov, Maksym Rylsky, Pavlo Fylypovych, Mykhailo Drai-Khmara, and Oswald Burghardt (Yurii Klen). They never established a formal organization or program, but they shared cultural and esthetic interests. Mykhailo Mohyliansky, Viktor Petrov, and others are also included in this loose grouping. The group's name is derived from their use of themes and images of antiquity and was given to them by their opponents in the Literary Discussion of 1925-8. The Neoclassicists were self-consciously concerned with the production of high art and disdained 'mass art,' didactic writing, and propagandistic work. Their opponents, in contrast, organized themselves around writers who were supported by the Communist party, and viewed literature in a primarily utilitarian fashion, that is, as a means of strengthening Soviet rule in Ukraine. In the 1930s Mykola Zerov, Pavlo Fylypovych, and Mykhailo Drai-Khmara were sent to Soviet concentration camps and perished there. Maksym Rylsky was forced to publish socialist-realist works, and Burghardt emigrated to the West, where he wrote under the pseudonym Yurii Klen. The tradition of the Neoclassicists was continued among emigre poets, most notably by M. Zerov's brother, Mykhailo Orest...
Neoclassicists (neokliasyky). A literary movement of the 1920s. The nucleus of the group consisted of Mykola Zerov, Maksym Rylsky, Pavlo Fylypovych, Mykhailo Drai-Khmara, and O. Burghardt (Yurii Klen)—the piatirne grono (cluster of five), as Drai-Khmara called them in his sonnet ‘Lebedi’ (The Swans). They never established a formal organization or program, but they shared cultural and esthetic interests. Mykhailo Mohyliansky, Viktor Petrov, and others are also included in this loose grouping. The group's name is derived from their use of themes and images of antiquity and was given to them by their opponents in the Literary Discussion of 1925–8. The Neoclassicists were self-consciously concerned with the production of high art and disdained ‘mass art,’ didactic writing, and propagandistic work. Their opponents, in contrast, organized themselves around writers who were supported by the Communist party, and viewed literature in a primarily utilitarian fashion, that is, as a means of strengthening Soviet rule in Ukraine.
The works of the Neoclassicists were anti-Romantic and antifolkloric. They sought universal themes and considered Ukrainian culture to be an organic part of Western European culture. The closest to what could be considered their program is clearly set out in Mykola Zerov's Do dzherel (To the Sources, 1926). ‘We should,’ he wrote, ‘assimilate the highest culture of our times, not only in its latest manifestations, but also in its original forms.’ From that commitment stemmed the demands the Neoclassicists made of a writer: (1) a comprehensive knowledge of the best works of Ukrainian literature; (2) a comprehensive knowledge of the achievements of world literature; and (3) poetic craftsmanship of the highest level. High art, in their view, could be conveyed only through clarity of thought and mastery of form. Their poetry, therefore, is characterized by balance, plasticity of image, and logical ordering of subject and composition. The main purpose of literature, as they perceived it, was esthetic; they rejected the tendentiousness, agitation, and moralizing of their contemporaries. In order to gain a knowledge of world literature most of them translated into Ukrainian selected works, ranging from those of antiquity to those of the Parnassians in France. Individual Neoclassicists gravitated toward particular styles: Maksym Rylsky and Pavlo Fylypovych to symbolism, Yurii Klen (Burghardt) to neoromanticism.
In the 1930s Mykola Zerov, Pavlo Fylypovych, and Mykhailo Drai-Khmara were sent to Soviet concentration camps and perished there. Maksym Rylsky was forced to publish socialist-realist works, and Burghardt emigrated to the West, where he wrote under the pseudonym Yurii Klen. The tradition of the Neoclassicists was continued among émigré poets, most notably by M. Zerov's brother, Mykhailo Orest.
In the 1960s the Neoclassicists were partially rehabilitated. After 20 years of stagnation, a slow movement to full rehabilitation began in the late 1980s. In the 1990s works of Neoclassicists became an integral part of the Ukrainian literary canon.
Zerov, Mykola, b 26 April 1890 in Zinkiv, Poltava gubernia, d 3 November 1937 in Sandarmoch, Karelia, RFSSR. Poet, translator, and literary historian. He studied philology at Kyiv University. From 1917 to 1920 he edited the bibliographical journal Knyhar. He was a professor of Ukrainian literature at the Kyiv Architectural Institute (1918–20), the Kyiv Co-operative Tekhnikum (1923–5), and the Kyiv Institute of People's Education (1923–35). He also taught the theory of translation at the Ukrainian Institute of Linguistic Education (1930–3). He was arrested by the NKVD in April 1935 and sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment in the Solovets Islands. On 9 October 1937 he was resentenced, to death by firing squad and perished during the mass executions of political and other prisoners marking the twentieth anniversary of the October Revolution of 1917.
Zerov's literary activity, both as a poet and as a translator, was in complete harmony with his ideals and theoretical postulates. An avowed classicist and Parnassian, he became the leader of the Neoclassicists. He concentrated on the sonnet and Alexandrine verse and produced excellent examples of both forms. He translated numerous works of Latin poetry. He also devoted attention to sonnets in other literatures and translated the works of J.-M. de Heredia, P. de Ronsard, J. du Bellay, Adam Mickiewicz, Ivan Bunin, and others. He wrote literary criticism on contemporary Soviet Ukrainian literary works, articles on literary translation, and introductions to editions of Ukrainian classics; edited anthologies; and took part in the Literary Discussion. His published translations include Antolohiia ryms’koï poeziï (An Anthology of Roman Poetry, 1920), Kamena (1924; 2nd edn 1943), and Juliusz Słowacki's Mazepa (1925). Among his poetic works published posthumously and abroad are Sonnetarium (1948), Catalepton (1952), and Corollarium (1958). His literary histories include Nove ukraïns’ke pys’menstvo (New Ukrainian Writings, vol 1, 1924), Do dzherel (To the Sources, 1926; 2nd edn 1943), Vid Kulisha do Vynnychenka (From Kulish to Vynnychenko, 1928), and Lektsiï z istoriï ukraïns’koï literatury (Lessons on the History of Ukrainian Literature, 1977). In 1958 Zerov was formally rehabilitated, and Vybrane (Selections) of his poetry was published in 1966, but a full rehabilitation was blocked by hostility from official critics, such as Leonid Novychenko and Mykola Shamota. In the late 1980s, on the initiative of Hryhorii Kochur, Zerov's works began to be collected seriously for publication. The fullest edition of his works was published in 1990 in two volumes
Drai-Khmara, Mykhailo( 1889 – 1939). Poet, linguist, literary scholar, translator. Drai-Khmara studied at the Galagan College (1906–10), Kyiv University (1910–15, including a year abroad), and Petrograd University (1915–17). He became a specialist in Ukrainian, Belarusian, and Serbian literatures and the history of the Serbian and Belarusian languages. He was professor of Ukrainian studies at Kamianets-Podilskyi Ukrainian State University (1918–21) and at the Kyiv Medical Institute (1923–9). From 1924 he was a member of the Historical-Literary Society of the All-Ukrainian Academy of Sciences and worked in the academy's Research Institute of Linguistics. In 1929 he became a member of the Commission for Researching the History of the Ukrainian Scientific Language and edited its Zbirnyk (Collection) of 1931. Drai-Khmara also taught at the Ukrainian Institute of Linguistic Education, the Polish Pedagogical Institute, and the Kyiv Agricultural Institute. He was arrested in February 1933 and imprisoned for three months, during which time he lost all of his positions. Rearrested in September 1935, he was sentenced for ‘counterrevolutionary terrorism’ in March 1936 and perished in a Kolyma labor camp.
Drai-Khmara wrote several studies of Lesia Ukrainka, most notably Lesia Ukraïnka: Zhyttia i tvorchist’ (Lesia Ukrainka: Her Life and Works, Kyiv 1926). He began writing poetry in 1910, and in the 1920s was a member of the Neoclassicists. His early poetry was lyrical, emotive, and essentially symbolist. His later poetry combined symbolist elements with an increasing attention to form, language, and imagery reminiscent of Kyivan neoclassicism. Drai-Khmara published only one collection in his lifetime: Prorosten’ (The Offshoots, Kyiv 1926). His poems were also published in the major Ukrainian literary journals of the 1920s. Most of his translations of the French, German, Russian, Belarusian, and Polish romantics and symbolists remain unpublished, as do his translations of Dante's Divine Comedy and the Finnish epic Kalevala. Drai-Khmara was severely criticized for his ‘reactionary’ poetry in the 1920s and 1930s, but he was partly rehabilitated in the 1960s.
Kobylianska, Olha( 1863 - 1942 ). A pioneering Ukrainian modernist writer. A self-educated and well-read woman, her first novellen were written in German, beginning in 1880. From 1891 she lived in Chernivtsi. Her travels and acquaintance with Lesia Ukrainka, Ivan Franko, Vasyl Stefanyk, and Mykhailo Kotsiubynsky changed her cultural and political outlook, and she became involved in the Ukrainian women's movement in Bukovyna and began writing in Ukrainian. Many of her works—including the novels Liudyna (A Person, 1891) and Tsarivna (The Princess, 1895)—have as their protagonists cultured, emancipated women oppressed in a philistine, provincial society; semiautobiographical elements and the influence of the writings of George Sand and Friedrich Nietzsche are evident. A neoromantic symbolist, she depicted the struggle between good and evil and the mystical force of nature (eg, the short story ‘Bytva’ [Battle]), predestination, magic, and the irrational in many of her stories of peasant life and in her most famous novels, Zemlia (Land, 1902) and V nediliu rano zillia kopala (On Sunday Morning She Gathered Herbs, 1909). Her works are known for their impressionistic, lyrical descriptions of nature and subtle psychological portrayals.
Kobylianska's works have been published in many editions and selections. The fullest collections were published in 1927–9 (9 vols) and 1962–3 (5 vols). In 1944 a literary memorial museum dedicated to her was opened in Chernivtsi.
Cultural renaissance of 1920s was quashed by Stalinist terror of the 1930s. Thus, in the late 1920s and early 1930s Kurbas and Berezil became the targets of ever-increasing condemnation by official Soviet critics and Party functionaries. In 1933 Kurbas and members of his troop were imprisoned, and later they died. Dovzhenko’s works were excluded from distribution, and the artist was invited to Moscow, far from the source of his inspiration. Ukrainian cultural policy managers accused of Ukrainian nationalism and contacts with “enemies of the people” were killed or committed suicide. Zerov, Filipovich amd Dray-Khmara were sent to concentration camps and perished there. Rylsky, Bazhan, Tychina were forced to join the official artistic soviet trend, socialist realism. Socialist realism was officially accepted creative method of Soviet literature and arts since the First USSR Congress of writers in 1934 established the Soviet Writers’ Union and declared its program guidelines. All other forms of realistic depiction of Soviet reality were prohibited. Socialist realism was enforced in literature and arts by means of repressions.
Socialist realism. The only officially sanctioned so-called ‘creative method’ in Soviet literature and art from the early 1930s. The revolutionary poets of the late 19th century (G.L. Weerth, E. Pottier) and the Russian revolutionary democrats (Vissarion Belinsky, Nikolai Chernyshevsky, Nikolai Dobroliubov) were considered its forerunners. To a certain extent the title ‘revolutionary democrat’ was also applied, artificially, to Ivan Franko, Lesia Ukrainka, and Mykhailo Kotsiubynsky. Maxim Gorky is acknowledged as the writer who laid down the principles of socialist realism before 1917, and who was its leading practitioner in the early years of Soviet rule. Before its official adoption as the prescribed style the All-Ukrainian Association of Proletarian Writers promoted their version of the form, ‘proletarian realism.’ The term socialist realism and its theoretical underpinnings were officially adopted by the First Congress of Writers of the USSR in August 1934, when the Soviet Writers' Union was established. Those active in other fields (theater, painting, sculpture, cinema, music) were also organized into single artistic unions, and also adopted socialist realism as the basic creative method.
According to the resolution of the first Writers' Union congress: ‘socialist realism demands a true, historical, and concrete depiction of reality in its revolutionary development. The realism and historical concreteness of the artistic rendering of reality must be tied to the ideological re-education and training of workers in the spirit of socialism. Socialist realism guarantees the artist exclusive control over creative initiative, and choice of form, style, and genre.’ As applied, however, those principles had a very narrow meaning. The ‘true depiction of reality in its revolutionary development’ meant that literature and art were to serve as glorifying illustrations of the CPSU's policies, and to portray what was hoped for in such a way that it seemed real. Deviations into truly realistic portrayals of Soviet reality and its deficiencies were attacked as ‘slavishness to facts’ or ‘anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda.’ That response resulted in the formulation of such theoretical conceptions as the ‘varnishing of reality’ and the ‘theory of no conflict,’ that is, painting reality with a rosy hue.
Socialist realism's need to hide falsity of content gave rise to certain characteristics of style in all Soviet literature and art. In literature it was responsible for the presence of compendiums of useless information and statistical data, the use of artificial verbal ornamentation, the overuse of epithets and similes (even in the works of superior writers, such as Oles Honchar and Pavlo Zahrebelny), a decline in the lexicon to the level of journalistic vocabulary, a reliance on artificial pathos that dipped into sentimentality (in the novels of Mykhailo Stelmakh, the biographical narratives of Yukhym Martych), and a preponderance of didacticism and moralizing. In painting it resulted in excessive pathos, photographism (with gestures and motion depicted as if frozen by photographs), and the tendency to dwell on luxurious uniforms and interiors.
Changes in socialist realism occurred in step with changes in the regime. The initial programmatic resolution that guaranteed choice of form, style, and genre had no practical application. In its first period (1934–41) socialist realism's range in prose and painting was restricted to depictions of industrialization and collectivization (in painting, the focus was mainly on portraits and monuments to Joseph Stalin). Poetry was reduced to stilted odes to the Party and its leaders (eg, Pavlo Tychyna's Partiia vede [The Party Leads the Way] and Maksym Rylsky's Pisnia pro Stalina [Song about Stalin]). Music consisted of cantatas dedicated to the Party. During the Second World War art was mainly the patriotic poster and the satirical caricature, and literature was dominated by patriotic themes and publicistic style (eg, narratives and articles of Oleksander Dovzhenko). Gradually the theme of glorification of the Russian ‘big brother’ crept in, and it was intensified after the war. The theme reached a climax in the ‘unification celebrations’ of 1954. It was reflected in various genres and media: in prose, in works such as Natan Rybak's Pereiaslavs’ka rada (The Pereiaslav Council, 2 vols, 1948, 1953), and in painting, in Mykhailo Derehus's Pereiaslav Council (1952) and M. Khmelko's Forever with Moscow, Forever with the Russian People (1951–4). The theme remained constant in Ukrainian socialist-realist literature and art; only its intensity varied.
Socialist realism was enforced in literature and the other arts by means of repressions. In the 1930s over 300 writers were executed or otherwise prevented from publishing. Some painters, such as Anatol Petrytsky, survived the terror, but their works were destroyed (an extensive series of Petrytsky's portraits). Many others, including Mykhailo Boichuk, Sofiia Nalepinska, Vasyl Sedliar, and Ivan Padalka, were shot. Theater was also decimated in the name of the new form. The Berezil theater was liquidated, and its founder and director, Les Kurbas, died in a prison camp, as did its principal playwright, Mykola Kulish. Its major actors, such as Yosyp Hirniak, were imprisoned. Writers of the brief literary renaissance of the 1950s and 1960s were persecuted because of their deviations from the officially sanctioned method. Departures from the norm were labeled ‘formalism,’ ‘abstractionism,’ or ‘modernism’ and proscribed. In its last stage socialist realism was praised for its Party orientation and its ‘populism’ (narodnist). Those terms continued to be used as synonyms for devoted service to the interests of the Party. Socialist realism also demanded isolation from the literature and art of the West, with particular emphasis on the ‘revisionism’ of Western Communist critics (eg, R. Garaudy, Réalisme sans rivages).
Theoreticians of socialist realism based their writings on those of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and Vladimir Lenin, various resolutions of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and the speeches of various Party leaders. A large body of writings created in several decades up until the 1990s consisted entirely of dogmatic pronouncements and tendentious interpretations of artificially chosen quotes from officially accepted works.
After the announcement of Perestroika and Glasnost in 1985, the dogmatic constraits of socialist realism have been widened. Indeed, reference to socialist realism has largely been avoided, especially since the breakup of the Soviet Union. With time, the use of this term practically disappeared in the contemporary art and literature of independent Ukraine.
In 1934–1941 arts in the USSR were restricted by depiction of industrialization and collectivization. Both poetry and music were reduced to glorification of the Communist Party and its leaders. The process of intensive Russification was renewed. Ukrainian cultural institutions, media were closed because of accusation in nationalism. Ukrainian culture was supplanted by unified Soviet culture. Ukrainian national intellectuals were decimated during Stalinist purges of the 1933–1934 and 1936–1938. The purges were not limited to personalities alone. Both national cultural heritage and modernist artistic schools were also subjected to prosecution. Hundreds of old cathedrals and churches, collections of arts were destroyed.
2. Stalin’s death and political leadership of N. Khruschev provoked the “thaw”. The thaw was a period in Soviet culture (1956–1965) that gave a chance for cultural revival. That decade was favorable for Ukrainian culture, the generation of the “sixtiers” appeared in Ukrainian cultural space. It was initiated by the publication of O. Dovzhenko autobiographical novelette “The Enchanted Desna” (1957). The process of rehabilitation of some of the authors destroyed in 1930s began slowly. These intellectuals of the sixtiers rediscovered the national non-elitist tradition, declared the values of artistic innovations and openness to new international trends and ideas. They renewed poetic forms and subjects which had been stamped out by the dogma of socialist realism. The prose of the sixtiers was characterized by realistic descriptions free of socialist realism constraints. L. Kostenko, V. Simonenko, M. Vingranovsky were among the sixtiers. The poet I. Drach wrote expressionist poems, translated by American writers of beatniks (i.e. literary movement, the representatives of which experimented with their style of life rebelling against bourgeois society and depicted their experience in their texts). The theatre director L. Tanyuk tried to revive the ideas of Kurbas. The film director S. Parajanov successfully developed the modernistic cinematograph of early Dovzhenko and created a new poetic movie language.
After the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953 and the 'de-Stalinization' speech by Nikita Khrushchev in 1956, the controls over literature in the Soviet Union began to slacken. The film director Oleksander Dovzhenko initiated the post-Stalinist 'thaw' in Ukrainian literature with the publication of his autobiographical novelette Zacharovana Desna (The Enchanted Desna, 1957). The process of rehabilitation of some of the authors destroyed in the 1930s began slowly. The rediscovery of the 1920s had a profound influence on the generation that was born just before or during the Second World War and began publishing in the 1960s. The so-called shistdesiatnyky (the Sixtiers) succeeded in a span of 10 years in revitalizing all genres of Soviet Ukrainian literature. Characteristic of shistdesiatnyky poetry was the renewal of poetic forms and subjects, which had been stamped out by the dogma of socialist realism. The prose of the group was characterized by realistic descriptions free of the constraints of socialist realism, witty humor or sharp satire, subtle delineation of the motives of protagonists, and an interest in historical subjects. However, the shistdesiatnyky movement lasted barely a decade. The writers concerned were harshly criticized and then completely silenced by the arrests of 1965-72. During the course of those repressions some individual writers went over to the official position without having offered particular resistance; some of them were denied permission to publish, or refused to do so for some time; others, who continued to oppose national discrimination and Russification and joined the ranks of the Ukrainian dissident movement, were arrested and punished with long prison sentences...
Shistdesiatnyky (also Shestydesiatnyky; The Sixtiers). The literary generation that began to publish in the second half of the 1950s, during Nikita Khrushchev's ‘de-Stalinization,’ and reached their literary peak in the early 1960s; hence, their name. The first representatives were Lina Kostenko and Vasyl Symonenko. Following their lead came a veritable proliferation of poets: Ivan Drach, Mykola Vinhranovsky, H. Kyrychenko, Vasyl Holoborodko, Ihor Kalynets, B. Mamaisur, and others. At first Vitalii Korotych was close to the group. The more prominent prose writers were Valerii Shevchuk, Hryhir Tiutiunnyk, Volodymyr Drozd, Yevhen Hutsalo, and Ya. Stupak, and literary critics, Ivan Dziuba, Yevhen Sverstiuk. The shistdesiatnyky held their ‘literary parents’ responsible for Stalinist crimes, for adapting to a despotic regime, and for creative impotence (eg, Drach in ‘Oda chesnomu boiahuzovi’ [Ode to an Honest Coward]). In turn, some of the older writers, such as Pavlo Tychyna, Platon Voronko, Mykola Sheremet, and Mykhailo Chabanivsky, exhibited a hostile attitude to the experimentation and innovation of the shistdesiatnyky. Characteristic of shistdesiatnyky poetry was the renewal of poetic forms and subjects, which had been stamped out by the dogma of socialist realism. The prose of the group was characterized by realistic descriptions free of the constraints of socialist realism, witty humor (as in the short stories of Tiutiunnyk) or sharp satire (as in Drozd's ‘Katastrofa’ [Catastrophe] and ‘Maslyny’ [Olives]), subtle delineation of the motives of protagonists, and an interest in historical subjects (as in the works of Shevchuk).
The shistdesiatnyky movement lasted barely a decade. The writers concerned were harshly criticized at a special meeting of the creative intelligentsia as early as 1963, and they were completely silenced by the arrests of 1965–72. During the course of those repressions some individual writers went over to the official position without having offered particular resistance. Some of them were denied permission to publish, or refused to do so for some time; others were not published again until the changes after. Others, who continued to oppose national discrimination and Russification and took part in the Ukrainian dissident movement, were arrested and punished with long sentences (Ivan Svitlychny, Vasyl Stus, Yevhen Sverstiuk, Ihor Kalynets, and Valerii Marchenko), whereupon some died in labor camps (Stus, Marchenko). Only Ivan Dziuba recanted, and after his release he was permitted to continue his literary work. The shistdesiatnyky movement completely died out at the beginning of the 1970s. Elements of the literary rebirth that it had initiated remained only in the works of certain poets and prose writers (Kostenko, Valerii Shevchuk). Apart from that, the shistdesiatnyky movement played an important role in popularizing samvydav literature and, most of all, in strengthening the opposition movement against Russian state chauvinism and Russification (as in Dziuba's book Internatsionalizm chy rusyfikatsiia? [Internationalism or Russification?, 1965], the essays of Sverstiuk, the samvydav poetry of many authors, especially Vasyl Symonenko and Mykola Kholodny, the accusatory leaflets and protest letters of Stus, Marchenko, and others). With the declaration of glasnost and perestroika in 1985, the shistdesiatnyky once again became active both in their own creative work and in publicistic writings in defense of the Ukrainian language and the autonomy of Ukrainian culture. Some of them, like Ivan Drach and Dziuba, became active politically in independent Ukraine.
Symonenko, Vasyl, b 8 January 1935 in Biivtsi, Lubny raion, Poltava oblast, d 13 December 1963 in Cherkasy. Poet, journalist, and dissident. He graduated with a degree in journalism from Kyiv University in 1957. He worked for the regional newspapers Cherkas’ka pravda and Molod’ Cherkashchyny and then became a regional correspondent of Robitnycha hazeta (Kyiv). Symonenko began writing poetry while a student, but because of the harsh environment of Soviet censorship he published little. Only one collection of his poetry appeared during his lifetime, Tysha i hrim (Silence and Thunder, 1962). His poetry, however, was popular and was widely circulated in samvydav, and it largely marks the beginning of the Ukrainian opposition movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Thematically, his verse consists of satires on the Soviet regime, such as ‘Nekroloh kukurudzianomu kachanovi’ (Obituary for a Corncob), ‘Zlodii’ (The Thief), and ‘Sud’ (The Trial); descriptions of the difficult life of the peasantry, such as ‘Duma pro shchastia’ (Duma about Happiness); condemnations of Soviet despotism, such as ‘Brama’ (The Gate), and ‘Granitni obelisky, iak meduzy’ (Granite Obelisks, Like Jellyfish); and protestations against Russian chauvinism, such as ‘Kurds’komu bratovi’ (For My Kurdish Brother). Of particular importance is a cycle of poems in which the poet speaks of his love for Ukraine. Selections from Symonenko's diary, Okraitsi dumok (The Crusts of Thoughts), were published in the journal Suchasnist’ (1965, no. 1). Collections of his poetry appeared in the West as Bereh chekan’ (The Shore of Waiting, 1965, 1973). His story Podorozh v kraïnu Navpaky (A Journey to the Country of Backwards) was published posthumously in Ukraine in 1964, as was the collection of poetry Zemne tiazhinnia (Earth's Gravity). The collection of short stories Vyno z troiand (The Wine from Roses) appeared in 1965, and a selection of works, Poeziï (Poems), appeared in 1966. The poems and novellas in the last-named selection were included in the second edition of Bereh chekan’, which appeared in 1973. The collection Narod mii zavzhdy bude: virshi ta kazky (My People Will Always Exist: Poems and Stories) appeared in 1990.
In the first decade following Symonenko's death Soviet literary criticism attempted to paralyze the influence of his samvydav poetry, by suppressing it and simultaneously praising it as ‘irreproachably devoted to the Communist Party line.’ Later the suppression of his works became total, and they were deemed by Mykola Shamota ‘incompatible’ with the Party line. A book about Symonenko, by A. Tkachenko, was published in Kyiv in 1990.