The readers of the Soviet Union knew about Kolas as a translator in 1926 after his translations of poems written by great Indian writer Rabindranath Tagore My dear just look… (Мілая, ну, глянь...) and Speak to me, my love (Скажы мне, мой любы) had appeared in a literary supplement to the Belarusian newspaper Belaruskaya vyoska. These translations were made from Russian into Belarusian. In the 30s Kolas made the most part of them. It was a period when his creative interpretations of immortal Poltava by Pushkin, Demon by Lermontov, narrative poems and poems of Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko The Heretic (Ерэтык), The Neophytes (Неафіты), Maria (Марыя), Gamalіya (Гамалія), The Owl (Савва), The Unearthed Grave (Раскапаная магіла), Why I feel so bad, why I feel so sad (Чаго мне так цяжка, чаго мне так нудна), To Gogal (Гогалю) and many others.
In 1940, Y. Kolas translated the poem of Mickiewicz The Landlord and the Girl (Паніч і дзяўчына). In 1941, to the 50th anniversary and the 30th anniversary of literary work of Ukrainian poet Pavlo Tychyna the Belarusian bard translated his poem The Copses Make a Noise (Гаі шумяц).
His last translations are dated to the 50s. It is a poem by Rylsky Museum named after Lenіn in Paronіne (Музей Леніна ў Пароніме)and three poems by P. Tychina: The Dance on the Ball (Танец на мячы), Above the Forests of Bryansk (Над бранскімі лясамі) and We Have Many Seas (Ёсць шмат у нас мораў).
Kolas made a lot of translations for his life. However, in spite of the quantity of his translations, they impress by their aesthetic value and the role, which these works had and will have in the formation and development of some principles in realistic methods of translation. The people’s bard regarded to literary translations as a matter of national importance. He understood that translation is one of the objective measures which define nature and intensity of cultural exchange between nations and their spiritual intimacy. Translation by Yakub Kolas... It increased invaluable, direct influence of classics from neighboring literatures on the work of our people’s poet, and therefore on Belarusian literature. It testified about the further development and enrichment of Belarusian literary language, activation of his voice expressive means and skillful borrowing of those which absent by some reasons. It also proved that Kolas became more experienced translator. He took part in the development of general translation principles applied for translation from one native language into another. Kolas participated in the creation of literary translation in general. All this meant that another page was written in the native book of the Slavic community.
In 1927, the Central Committee of the CPB adopted a resolution to issue the 20th-volume collection written by V. Lenin in the Belarusian language. Yakub Kolas was among members of this commission, and his responsibility was to edit stylistically translations. In the 30s a complete collection of works written by Maxim Gorky was decided to publish. Y. Kolas together with M. Lynkov and Z. Beduly edited this edition.
The book of poems Kobzar (Кабзарь) by T. Shevchenko was issued in the Belarusian language twice –in 1939 and 1952. Both times (in 1939 – together with Yanka Kupala) Kolas took difficult, but honorable responsibility as a literary editor of the book.
Kolas made most of his translations in the 30s. It was mainly caused by the fact that at that time the Belarusian and Soviet people celebrated several important dates: 1937 – the 100th anniversary from the date of Alexander Pushkin’s death, 1939 – the 125th anniversary from the date of the birth of T. Shevchenko and M. Lermontov. To celebrate these dates numerous works of these writers were published in the Belarusian language. The translation of them was charged to the best literary specialists in Belarus. So, of course, Yakub Kolas used the opportunity to some extent to thank his closest literary teachers, got knowledge from the best masters.
Translated by Yakub Kolas
- The Demon written by M. Lermontov
- Poltava written by A. Pushkin
- The Landlord and the Girl written by A. Mickiewicz
- Taras Shevchenko’s works
- Рагойша, В. Вяршыні: з невядомага і забытага пра Я. Купалу, Я. Коласа, М. Багдановіча / Вячаслаў Рагойша. – Мінск: Універсітэцкае, 1991. – 199 с.
- Рагойша, В. П. Пераклаў Якуб Колас... / В. П. Рагойша. – Мінск, Выдавецтва БДУ, 1972. – 112 с.