Here we are in the Tempe Valley, which is so rich in its romantic history.
In his notes to the guidebook "Across Sofiyivka", T.Themery gave a description
of the Tempe Valley, situated in Greece between two mountains - Olympus and
Ossoi, and in the middle of it the Piney River flowed. Describing a natural
beauty of the Tempe Valley, T.Themery underlined that typically art tried to
follow nature, but there, on the contrary, nature tried to come closer to art.
L.Metzel made an attempt to create a prototype of Greek Tempe Valley. According
to T.Themery, nine birch-trees grew there. Allegorically they could have been
Potocki's nine sons. Two of them (Kostiantyn and Mykola) died at an early age,
as well as Potocki's daughter Helena. In memory of an early-lost life, we can
see a granite obelisk, which is called Cut-Off Column in numerous modern guidebooks;
T.Themery and S.Groza called it Broken Column though. There is a gravestone
down the obelisk, which resembles a sleeping lion, and nearby a stream of the
Kamianka River whispers, being divided into three waterfalls. They are called
"Three Tears" and express the mother's sorrow for her deceased children.
The Tempe Valley is rich in symbolism, which is supposed to cast the feeling
of sorrow and thoughts over the visitors. In this place a tour-guide will tell
some details of S.S.Potocki's biography, which will help understand the history
of the foundation of the park, some compositions of the park, in particular,
a symbolic grave of his beloved wife Gertrude Komarovska.
A marble bust of ancient Greek philosopher Plato (427-347 BC)
is installed on the right side of a granite pedestal. You can
see busts of Plato, Aristotle and Socrates in the park. As it
was mentioned earlier, after the revolution they were brought
from the park, which belonged to count Shuvalov (the park was
situated in Talne, Cherkasy region). Count Shuvalov was the
husband of Potocki's granddaughter, Sofia by name.
We are leaving the Tempe Valley and one of the most beautiful parts of the
park opens in front of us, namely, the Elysian Fields. In ancient Greek myths
the Elysian Fields were considered to be nice meadows, surrounded by a thick
forest with various trees grown there. Trees made slight shade over people who
were resting on flowerbeds. Nightingales and other singing birds were flying
and throwing more and more flowers over them, gathered in nearby meadows. That
was the place for eternal rest and the dream of devoted defenders of their native
land. It was their paradise. A famous Russian traveler I.M.Dolgorukyi, having
visited "Sofiyivka" in 1810, wrote: "If you want to have a true concept of the
Elysian Fields, or the paradise on the earth, come to see "Sofiyivka" and to
amaze a genius of creation. Here art and nature, combining all their forces,
created a wonderful picture. What a harmonic consent in their surprising combination
of joint work! Nothing can be compared with what one can see there: everything
fascinates and captivates visitors. However, do not think that I would like
to present you some unreal beauty. This garden is one of the happy and logical
consequences of human art " Approaching this meadow, where everything breathes
out quietness, peace, silence, which is disturbed only by birds' singing and
hardly heard flow of the Kamianka River (the Styx River), we can see a granite
bridge on the right, called the Bridge of Plants by T.Themery. Probably it is
associated with a great variety of exotic plants grown here; and in summer,
according to L.O.Kazarinov, the plants of lemon, orange, cypress and azalea,
placed in barrels and pots and taken from the greenhouses, were put along
the alley. On the other side of the bridge, a bust of an ancient Greek poet
Homer, the author of famous "Iliad" and "Odyssey", is installed on a granite
pedestal. The bust of Homer is fixed on the same place where earlier a bust
of the first poet, who wrote about "Sofiivka", namely, S.Trembecki, was mounted.
L.O.Kazarinov told that S.Trembecki's poem in Polish was carved on the pedestal;
being translated into English, it sounds like that:
The stream, flow as a quick spring,
Hurry up to a wild stone
To say good-bye to shady banks,
Leave blooming places.
A happy day is coming to an end,
We have very few of them.
No sooner has the day started,
When it runs away from us again.
According to L.O.Kazarinov, in 1907 S.Trembecki's bust was stolen from the
park As T.Themery (1846) noted there was a statue of Josef Poniatovski, made
of white marble; a bronze bust of S.Trembecki was kept in the rotunda, which
had the name the Athenian school. There is no rotunda any longer, but large
stones, which look like benches and tables for teachers and their pupils, are
at their usual places. L.O.Kazarinov, describing this part of the park, mentioned
that a gorgeous alley of plane-trees was grown along the banks of the Kamianka
River; their wide leaves, slender trunks of a regular form with a mighty crown
made a beautiful view. Unfortunately, the alley was damaged by frost of 1889.
T.Themery also informed that a lot of Lombardy poplars grew there.
A granite boulder of a natural form lies near the entrance to the Elysian Fields,
and nearby there is a hewn tetrahedral polished granite column. These two stones
happened to be together by accident; the time passed, the composition got the
name "Nature and Art”. The name was first mentioned in L.O.Kazarinov's hand-written
essay: "These two stones symbolize: one - the art, the other - the nature".
All other authors described these two stones as a small architectural composition
"Nature and Art", created in 1796-1800.
Trying to guess a real destiny of this hewn column, we studied all available
literary and archive data about "Sofiyivka" carefully. In S.Trembecki's poem
our attention was attracted by a story: coming back from the Athenian school,
the poet heard some noise not far from the place where he was and he headed
in that direction. There he saw a group of weak and tired serfs, who moved a
long stone made from the inside part of the cliff with help of rope, which was
called obelisk. The signature on it showed for whom it would be installed: "Diona's
grandson installed it for the fourth Charity". In his explanation to the text
of the poem "Sofiyivka", Adam Mitskevych wrote that according to the opinions
of some poets Diona was Aphrodite's mother (Venus), which meant that Cupid,
the god of love (Venus' son) was Diona's grandson. Trembecki called Sofia Potocka
the fourth Charity (the fourth grace). Later he narrated that this flat, smooth
stone was in a shady forest and one day would become part of the pyramid with
four equal sides, similarly, as in old days Cesteia was built in Rome. In ancient
Greek mythology Charities are three goddesses (Aglaia, Euphrasy and Thalia)
of gaiety and joie de vivre, an embodiment of gracefulness and refinement. From
archive documents we learned that S.S.Potocki really had an intention to install
an obelisk in honor of Sofia in the park. De Leggard, for example, wrote that
the obelisk of Sofia was made of a granite block and referred to an inscription
in Greek "Love gives to Sofia".
S.Lojek (1982), making a reference to archive documents (the originals are
kept in Poland), mentioned the following: Stanislaw Kostka Potocki asked Sofia
to give the obelisk to the collection in his park in Bilanovo. However, in her
letter of March 12 1816 from Tulchin, she gave a negative answer and explained
that the inscription was made in French, Greek and Latin, that the obelisk was
made by her deceased husband to be placed in the palace yard of "Sofiyivka".
Later, she added that her son Oleksandr wanted to install the obelisk as soon
as possible, and that she was not authorized to give orders.
S.Groza (1843) writes that near the road, which leads from the Amsterdam Lock
to the greenhouse, there are two granite stones 15 cubits and 7 inches long,
meant for the obelisk of Sofia Potocka. Then S.Groza makes reference to S.Trembecki's
information. Having studied these literary and archive data, we think that in
front of us there is one of the columns set aside for the obelisk of Sofia.
This assumption is confirmed with dimensions: the height of the column is 362
mm, the width of four sides near the basis is 1020 mm each, and the width of
four sides near the top of the column is 870 mm each. The two columns described by S.Groza had common height
7010 mm, that is, 3050 mm each.
Having lifted the column with a truck crane, we made certain that the fourth
side of it is also polished, but there is no inscription mentioned by S.Trembecki.
That is why, we cannot insist on telling that this is really one of the columns
meant for the obelisk of Sofia and mentioned by S.Trembecki. However, we cannot
assert that this composition was planned very specially; as no matter how rich
S.Potocki could be, he would not agree to trim all four sides of the column
toward the cone shape for the composition.
To the right the bust of Aristotle (384-322 BC), and ancient Greek philosopher
and scientist, is installed on a granite obelisk, surrounded with very old pine-trees.
Aristotle studied in Athens and his teacher was Plato, later he founded Lyceum
or "peripatetic" school ("peripateticos" in Greek means "1 am strolling"). While
conducting lectures, he walked along the Lyceum with his students; the name
of the school originated from this fact. Representatives of this school studied
particular subjects, such as history, theory of the State, physics, geography,
astronomy, music and others. Oleksandr Makedonskyi was Aristotle's pupil. After
the death of the scientist, Theophrastus headed the school almost for 34 years,
who was one of the first botanists in the ancient world, who created the classification
of plants and systematized observations of morphology and medical application
Walking along the alley deeper in the Elysian Fields, there on the left on
a well-planned meadow, you will see a granite vase, which is not in harmony
with a large granite pedestal. V.Ivaschenko (1895) and L.O. Kazarinov wrote
that a vase decorated with flowers was installed in the middle of the meadow.
At the time, when V.Ivaschenko described the park, there was a granite column
and the bust of S.Trembecki installed on it. But before, according to V.Ivaschenko,
the column was decorated with a vase of flowers.