On June 2, Bulgaria marks the 136th anniversary of Hristo Botev’s death. Botev, one of Bulgaria’s most favourite national heroes, was a genius poet, whose works have been translated into many languages. On June 2, Bulgarians also commemorate those who died in the name of Bulgaria’s liberty and independence.
Hristo Botev lived in crucial historical times - a period of national revolutions and social
repercussions, as well as of new democratic ideas emerging in the old continent. At the time, Bulgaria was facing a turning point in the liberation struggles from some 5 centuries of Ottoman rule. Botev’s poetry is inspired by the heroes who died in the liberation struggles. His poems reveal the nation’s suffering, the shipwrecked dreams of his youth, as well as his thirst for becoming part of the country’s liberation movement.
Botev’s lyrical writing stood out among the works of the poets at the time for its smiting emotional outburst and vivid romantic imagery. His ballad “Hadji Dimiter” and the elegy “The Hanging of Vassil Levsky” remain unsurpassed masterpieces of Bulgarian poetic art to this day.
“He who falls in the fight for freedom Does not die: for he is mourned By earth and sky, wild beast and nature, And minstrels sing their songs about him…”
(an excerpt from the ballad of Hadji Dimiter in the English rendition of Peter Tempest)