Bohdan Ihor Antonych

Bohdan Ihor Antonych (1909-37) took the folklore language and traditions of the Lemke region, which was part of Poland between the first and second world wars, and transplanted them into literary Ukrainian. The Lemke were a Ukrainian mountain people whose culture and traditions were rooted in crop cycles and pagan mythology and, in Antonych’s work, the boundaries between the narrator, the natural world and the music of the poems become blurred within an ecstatic pagan celebration of life.

The ethnic community in which Antonych’s language was rooted was destroyed after the war when, during a brutal exercise termed ‘Operation Vistula’ the Lemke were deported from their homeland in order to crush the Ukrainian underground and resettled elsewhere in Poland . See

There is still an active Lemke Ukrainian community but the organic connection to the soil has been broken and the variant of Ukrainian spoken by Antonych only exists like a specimen preserved in formaldehyde.

– from Steve Kormarnyckyj’s introduction in MPT 3/14 Polyphony