The distant past attracts us with mysteries of lost civilizations and unresolved characters. They keep memory about noisy feasts and bloody battles, unknown nations and powerful sovereigns, tells us that people lived, suffered, loved and died in olden times as well as nowadays. Therefore we set store so much by a few Old Slav literary texts in which our heavy history and reach culture are coming to life: "The Tale of Olden Times",  "Zadonshchyna",   "The Lay of the Warfare Waged by Igor"...
  They are like beacons which show us the way from the depth of ages. Their light was never gone out because such people always stood near those beacons who were ready to maintain its bright and clear flame and who weren't afraid to burn themselves.

Author of «The Lay of the Warfare Waged by Igor", to all appearances, is fated to be unknown. This work is dedicated to description of unsuccessful campaign against Polovtsi taken by Igor, the Prince of Novgorod-Seversky, the son of Svyatoslav in 1185. The description had become well-known only at the end of XVIII century, when it came to hands of famous antiquity collector Count A.I.Musin-Pushkin. The Count hadn't got the original old Russian text of XII century but its copy of times of XVI century, later this fact served as a matter of speculations on authenticity of «The Lay» among  enlightened Europeans. Musin-Pushkin made several copies of the manuscript, in particular for the Empress Catherine II, and fulfilled himself the first translation of this unique record.

In 1800 the event had happened, which truly can be marked as historical one: Musin-Pushkin, together with N.N. Bantysh-Kamensky and A.F.Malinovsky, realized the first edition of «The Lay of the Warfare Waged by Igor». In parallel with Old Russian text the translation of "The Lay" to Russian and brief commentaries were published. In such a way "The Lay" was included in Russian and then in European cultural treasury.

In 1803 the first poetic translation of "The Lay" by I.Seryakov was published. Since that time the dicussions continue, was this ancient literary memorial written as prosaic or as poetic one. Even some attempts were made to voice the text in accordance with modern point of view on oral speech in XII century. However it appears that such discussion has no definite decision: there is a rhythm in "The Lay", and a rhyme occurs in it, but the poetry in modern sense hadn't existed at the times of Old Russia. Therefore both prosaic and poetic translations are equally rightful although it's better to reflect the poetical character of the memorial by means of verses. 

The history of  "The Lay" versifications and expositions is rich in talented names — it seems that this record always attracted the best poetical powers of the country. After  I.Seryakov's translation in 1807 the next versification of "The Lay" was published in the City of Kharkov, written by our fellow countryman, an outstanding enlightener, poet,  translator and architect A.A.Palitsyn. Then versifications by N.Yazvitsky (1812), N.Levitsky (1813) and prosaic exposition by N.M.Karamzin (1816) appeared. Ukrainian literary man V.V.Kapnist worked at translation of "The Lay" by rhythmical prose in 1809—1813. During successive almost two centuries quite a number of translations of this outstanding record came out, among them works by V.A.Zhukovsky (1819, published in 1882), L.Mey (1850), A.N.Maykov (1870), N.A.Zabolotsky(1946), I.Shklyarevsky (1980).

The versification, which came out at the City of Kharkov in the run-up to 200-s anniversary of first edition of "The Lay of the Warfare Waged by Jgor", is the work of kharkovite Vyacheslav M. Goncharov (Pyzh); it takes a notable place among the number of last poetic interpretations of the masterpiece of ancient literature. This work is a result of many years of historical, philological and local history studies of V.M.Goncharov, who carried out all of them together with his friend, artist N.Gnatchenko. Therefore the artist's pictures are closely connected with the text of Goncharov's versification.

Author of the aforesaid versification, who didn't live till «The Lay» anniversary, who dreamed about grandiose celebration of this event at Kharkov, was a wonderful man indeed. Really gifted man is generous and talented in many aspects — this assertion in full measure can be used to personality of Goncharov. Physicist by education, candidate of science, author of many works on theoretical physics, he painted excellently, had a subtle perception of music, played piano, took a great interest in philosophy... And also he wrote sincere poems, found much time for social activities for the benefit of his native city. His poetical interpretation of "The Lay" is a link in the infinite chain of works of Prometheus fire keepers in the field of Slavonic culture, one link of spoken about by Academician D.S. Likhachov: "As it's impossible to include the real star into the greatest telescope, so it's impossible to substitute the best translation for a brilliant original work. Tens and hundreds of telescopes will be directed on  "The Lay of the Warfare Waged by Igor", and each of them will discover in it something new, which wasn't taken in notice by predecessors... This memorial is always fresh. Every epoch finds in the record something new and epoch's own. This is the destination of genuine works of art: they speak about new things to new times and they are always contemporary."

And one more important thought comes to us while acquaintance with the literary work by Goncharov: it's the significant fact, isn't it, that both the first in Ukraine Palitsyn's translation of "The Lay" and the last translation in the second millennium – the Goncharov's one – are related to Kharkov land (the witness of events reflected in this Lay), to Slobozhan literary tradition? In such a way the two-hundred cycle of "The Lay" new life is closed for all of us, Ukrainians. This exiting oversight and grateful memory of fellow student of Kharkov State University Vyacheslav Goncharov make the author of this site to realize an adventurous project - computer edition of "The Lay of the Warfare Waged by Igor", a collection of versifications and expositions to three languages of brotherly Slavonic nations: Ukrainian, Russian and Byelorussian. This collection includes also an English version of "The Lay" (translated by Irina Petrova).

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