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The translation of The Internationale

Kupala translated the international proletarian hymn The Internationale in response to the first days of the Russian Revolution. When he worked on it, he at the same time translated The Song of Igor’s Campaign. The Internationale in the Belarusian language with the following introduction, “This complete collective translation was made from the French original and confirmed by the Belarusian communists", has been published for the first time in the newspaper Savetskaya Belarus (№ 157, 20 July 1921). The name of a translator wasn’t mentioned.

The fact that the Belarusian Internationale was a collective work was revealed by M. Kaminsky in the article "How was The Internationale translated”: "As to “collective” translation a lot of institutions and organizations in Belarus were interested in its creation and helped Kupala in order to make it as soon as possible. So, for example, the members of Termіnologіcal Commission, which referred to the BSSR People’s Commissariat, found more accurate, appropriate words and helped in comparing with the French text. At that time Kupala also belonged to this commission".

Several versions exist about the creation of the Belarusian translation. Thus, Y. Semezhon in his article "The translation by Kupala of The Internationale (The experience of comparative study)" (Купалаўскі пераклад “Інтэрнацыянала” (Вопыт параўнальнага даследавання)) and the author of the article “The Internationale” in the encyclopedia “Yanka Kupala” consider that the Belarusian variant was made from the Russian text translated by A. Kots and included a refrain and three stanzas of the original: the first two and the last one (a full translation of The Internationale in Russian was published in 1937).

In the article "Arise, the workers of all nations!.." (Litaratura I Mastatstva, 1971, № 23, 4 June) N. Deshkevich wrote that Kupala’s variant corresponded to the French original. He testified it by the fact that A. Kots translated only three stanzas of The Internationale (1, 2 and 6) in 1902 and the others appeared later in the 30s. However, Kupala had translated all six stanzas by that time in 1921. To prove, N. Deshkevich noted that all French editions of The Internationale, with the exception of the collection “Revolutionary Songs” (Революционные песни) (1887)), include the stanza "This is our last battle" as a refrain repeated after each stanza. On the other hand, Kupala only started and finished The Internationale with these lines. Thus, N. Deshkevich thinks that Yanka Kupala made a translation from a lifetime collection of Eugène Pottier "Revolutionary Songs" (1887). When the translation of Y. Kupala appeared in print, it was met quite friendly by Belarusian criticism.


  1. Шамякіна, А.І. Пераклады Янкі Купалы 20-х гадоў / А. І. Шамякіна // Янка Купала і Якуб Колас у кантэксце славянскіх літаратур: матэр. міжнар. навук.-практ. канф. (Мінск, 3–4 кастр. 2002 г.) / Рэдкал.: У. В. Гніламёдаў (гал. рэд.) і інш. – Мінск, 2002. – С. 277–281.
  2. 130 гадоў з дня нараджэння Янкі Купалы // Наша слова. – 2012 – № 27. – С. 1.
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