Yakub Kolas and Yanka Kupala are contemporaries, brothers-in-arms, people of the same age and writers whose work is typologically close.
These national significant names of our classic writers are closely related to the fateful essence of Belarusian literature, its crucial achievements, its impetuous aesthetic and, it is possible to say, historical and worldwide growth and blossoming.
Both Yakub Kolas and Yanka Kupala embody in their work the national consciousness, ideas and feelings; both writers reveal the national character, the features of inner world and material life of Belarusians.
Having the similar aesthetic views and public ideals, Kupala and Kolas have a very different creative manner: everyone has his original voice and style, the unique life, human character and inner world.
And even having the most general idea of their writing, it is possible to see the specificity of each poet.
Yanka Kupala is mainly a romanticist. Yakub Kolas is a realist. The lyrics of Yanka Kupala are those of a prophet, a foreteller, they are polyphonic. The lyrics of Yakub Kolas reveal the experience of a real, common, specific person. Kupala’s romanticism manifests in metaphors and a spectacular style. The writing of Yakub Kolas has a realistic and specific plot. Yanka Kupala is a lyricist whose dramatic exertion easily transforms into dramatic art. His first play “Паўлінка”(Paulinka) with its innovative form and contents has paved the way to the development of all Belarusian dramatic art.
Yakub Kolas is a poet, prose writer, playwright, critic, children’s writer. As a narrative, realistic and specific author, Kolas writes the epic poem “Новая зямля” (The New Land) and becomes one of the founders of Belarusian national prose. He is an outstanding master of narration, the author of stories written in a clear language and style (“На прасторах жыцця” (On Life's Expanses), “Дрыгва” (The Quagmire)). Together with Tishka Gartny, Yakub Kolas has laid the foundation of the Belarusian novel. His trilogy "На ростанях" (At a Distance) is an example of a real epic work.
Yanka Kupala’s poetic world is, first of all, the result of his creative imagination. Yanka Kupala is the artist and creator of images in which a plain reality turns to romantic beauty. Therefore Kupala’s writing is less autobiographical. First of all, he concentrates on spiritual. Kupala is known as a poet and a playwright, the author of splendid plays “Раскіданае гняздо” (The Ruined Nest) and “Паўлінка” (Paulinka). As a poet by the nature of his talent he is lyrical, sublime and romantic, impetuous, emotional and dramatic. His love to the Motherland and hatred against its oppressors sound at all stages of his creativity, from his pathos poems “Мужык” (Peasant) and “Там” (There) to a sincere and heartfelt song about a future victory over Hitlerism “Зноў будзем шчасце мець і долю” (I Know We Shall Get Happiness Again). His poetry is social and full of a glaring contradiction.
Yakub Kolas is, first of all, the artist of biography, his creativity is the images he has seen, the experience he has gone through, poeticizing his own destiny or that of people close to the poet, his friends; the world he has seen and heard personally. Kolas created a lot of romantic works. However, Yakub Kolas’ romantic world, unlike that of Kupala, is not fantastic and abstract images; it is the world revealed in specific realities and details. Yakub Kolas is more epic, more terrestrial than Kupala; he is extremely attentive to the life of peasants, their daily worries and separate human fates. Yakub Kolas is an excellent story-teller, very observant, attentive to the finest shades of idea, to the feelings of a character; he is an expert in methods and ways of revealing of their inner life.
The works of Yanka Kupala and Yakub Kolas have different artistic features. Yanka Kupala is inspired by the traditions of Polish romanticism (M. Konopnicka, A. Mickiewicz, S. Wyspianski); Yakub Kolas – by the traditions of Russian classical realistic poetry (A. Krylov, A. Pushkin, N. Nekrasov).
The historical merit of Yanka Kupala and Yakub Kolas is that they created the true masterpieces of national art and by that have made Belarusian literature equal to the most advanced literatures of the world, made it public phenomenon, one of more important and effective means of moral and aesthetic education of future generations. Our literature is our pride; this is the branch of spiritual activity in which Belarusians have most brightly manifested as the nation. Yanka Kupala and Yakub Kolas revealed the soul of Belarusians, shown their character, stated their ideas and hopes, their primordial thirst for “calling themselves people”. Really, the particular feature of literary classics created, first of all, by both masters of the Belarusian word, is its extreme public demand, urgency, topicality, its deep connection with present day, with urgent issues of the present, with everything that defines, outlines and forms the national originality of the Belarusian ethnos, its cognitive mental dominants, the structure of thinking, the spiritual self-identification status.