Although Shevchenko's early poetic achievements were evident to his contemporaries, it was not until his second period (1843-5) that through his poetry he gained the stature of a national bard. Having spent eight months in Ukraine at that time, Shevchenko realized the full extent of his country's misfortune under tsarist rule and his own role as that of a spokesperson for his nation's aspirations through his poetry. He wrote the poems 'Rozryta mohyla' (The Ransacked Grave, 1843), 'Chyhyryne, Chyhyryne' (O Chyhyryn, Chyhyryn, 1844), and 'Son' (A Dream, 1844) in reaction to what he saw in Ukraine. In 'Son' he portrayed with bitter sarcasm the arbitrary lawlessness of tsarist rule. Shevchenko's talent for satire is also apparent in his 1845 poems 'Velykyi l'okh,' 'Kavkaz,' 'Kholodnyi Iar,' and 'I mertvym, i zhyvym …' (To the Dead and the Living.). 'Velykyi l'okh, 'a 'mystery' in three parts, is an allegory that summarizes Ukraine's passage from freedom to captivity. In 'Kavkaz' Shevchenko universalizes Ukraine's fate by turning to the myth of Prometheus, the free spirit terribly punished for rebelling against the gods, yet eternally reborn. He localizes the action in the Caucasus, whose inhabitants suffered a fate similar to that of the Ukrainians under tsarism. In his poetic epistle 'I mertvym, i zhyvym …' Shevchenko turns his bitterness and satire against the Ukrainians themselves, reminding them that only in 'one's own house' is there 'one's own truth' and entreating them to realize their national potential, stop serving foreign masters, and become honorable people worthy of their history and heritage, in their own free land.
Similarly, in his poem 'Try lita' (1845), which has also been used as the name of the second period of Shevchenko's poetic creativity and the body of work he wrote at that time, he presents his own 'awakening' to the shame around him. Shevchenko laments his lost innocence and scorns the coming new year 'swaddled' in one more ukase. His scorn for the inactivity of his compatriots is also echoed in the poem 'Mynaiut' dni, mynaiut' nochi' (Days Pass, Nights Pass, 1845), in which somnolent inactivity is seen as far worse than death in chains. In December 1845 Shevchenko composed a cycle of poems titled 'Davydovi psalmy' (David's Psalms). He chose the psalms that had a meaning for him (1, 12, 43, 52, 53, 81, 93, 132, 136, 149) and imbued those biblical texts with contemporary political relevance. He ends his 'Try lita' album with his famous 'Zapovit' (Testament, 1845), a poem that has been translated into more than 60 languages. After being set to music by H. Hladky in the 1870s, the poem achieved a status second only to Ukraine's national anthem and firmly established Shevchenko as Ukraine's national bard.
Shevchenko's historical poem 'Ivan Hus,' aka 'Ieretyk' ( 1845), introduced another of Shevchenko's major themes. Dedicated to Pavel ?afa??k, it depicts the trial and burning of Jan Hus in Konstanz in 1415 to promote the Pan-Slavism of the Cyril and Methodius Brotherhood.
Shevchenko wrote his poetic cycle 'V kazemati' (In the Casemate) in the spring of 1847 during his arrest and interrogation in Saint Petersburg. It marks the beginning of the most difficult, late period of his life (1847-57). The 13 poems of the cycle contain reminiscences (the famous lyrical poem 'Sadok vyshnevyi kolo khaty' [The Cherry Orchard by the House]); reflections on the fate of the poet and his fellow members of the Cyril and Methodius Brotherhood; and poignant reassertions of his beliefs and his commitment to Ukraine. Shevchenko's stand was unequivocal, and he exhorted his fellow Cyrillo-Methodians and all of his compatriots to 'Love your Ukraine / Love her … in the harshest time / In the very last harsh minute / Pray to God for her.' Throughout his exile, Shevchenko's views did not change. But his poems grew more contemplative and reflective. In his 'bootleg booklets' he continued writing autobiographical, lyrical, narrative, historical, political, religious, and philosophical poems. Of special interest is his long poem 'Moskaleva krynytsia' (The Soldier's Well, 1847, 2d variant 1857), which reveals Shevchenko's preoccupation with the themes of inhumanity and the capacity to accept and forgive. A comparison of its two variants provides an insight into Shevchenko's maturation as a poet and thinker.
Shevchenko's autobiographical poems include such lyrical works as 'Meni trynadtsiatyi mynalo' (I Was Turning Thirteen, 1847), 'A. O. Kozachkovs'komu' (For A. O. Kozachkovsky, 1847), 'I vyris ia na chuzhyni' (And I Grew Up in Foreign Parts, 1848), 'Khiba samomu napysat'' (Unless I Write Myself, 1849), 'I zoloto? i doroho?' (Both Golden and Dear, 1849), and 'Lichu v nevoli dni i nochi' (I Count Both Days and Nights in Captivity, 1850, 2d variant 1858). But personal reflection also occurs in some of his 'landscape' poems, especially where Shevchenko describes the paysage of his captivity-eg, 'Sontse zakhodyt', hory chorniiut'' (The Sun Is Setting, the Hills Turn Dark, 1847) and 'I nebo nevmyte, i zaspani khvyli'(The Sky Is Unwashed, and the Waves Are Drowsy, 1848). Varied and rich are the poems devoted to narratives and description motivated by his memories of peasant life. Shevchenko uses folk-song elements to depict sadness, parting, loneliness, folkways, motherhood, women's harsh fate, and the longing for happiness. His poetic style is marked by the use of simple language, concrete descriptions, metaphors, and personification. Shevchenko consistently refined his use of folkloric material. He expanded the use of ancient symbolism and made full use of the expressivity of folk songs. His adaption and transformation of folkloric elements was so