This is Taras Shevchenko.
He is Ukranian.
And a poet.
And he died in 1861
At the beginning of the
American Civil War.
In the rain.
Here’s some of what Wikipedia tells us:
Shevchenko was orphaned at the age of eleven.
He began writing poetry while he was a serf and in 1840 his first collection of poetry, Kobzar, was published. Ivan Franko, the renowned Ukrainian poet in the generation after Shevchenko, had this to say of the compilation: “[Kobzar] immediately revealed, as it were, a new world of poetry. It burst forth like a spring of clear, cold water, and sparkled with a clarity, breadth and elegance of artistic expression not previously known in Ukrainian writing.”
Czar Nicholas was about to pardon Shevchenko, since literature was not as bad as violent opposition, which he also faced (Decembrist uprising etc.). Then, however, Czar Nicholas read Shevchenko’s poem, “The Dream.” Vissarion Belinsky wrote in his memoirs, “Nicholas I, knowing Ukrainian very well, laughed and chuckled whilst reading the section about himself, but his mood quickly turned to bitter hatred when he read about his wife. Shevchenko had mocked her frumpy appearance and facial tics, which she had developed whilst fearing the Decembrist Uprising and its plans to kill her family. After reading this section the Tsar indignantly stated ‘I suppose he had reasons not to be on terms with me, but what has she done to deserve this?'”
Taras Shevchenko spent the last years of his life working on new poetry, paintings, and engravings, as well as editing his older works. But after his difficult years in exile his final illness proved too much. Shevchenko died in Saint Petersburg on March 10, 1861, the day after his 47th birthday.
His works and life are revered by Ukrainians and his impact on Ukrainian literature is immense.