As Carpathian legend has it, Oleksa Dovbush was a heroic outlaw with excellent fighting skills and a gift to predict the future. After being orphaned when a lord murdered his mother, he spent his childhood in exile in the mountains, returning as a grown man ready for revenge. Oleksa gathered followers to begin a crusade against the lord, but destiny made other plans for him.
Of all the legends of this character, the colorful ballad “In a Green Grove” is said to be the best known. It’s all about the last days of the outlaw, who arrives in Kosmach for a rendezvous with Dzvinka, the wife of Shtefan. Dzvinka replies Shtefan is away at work, but does not unbolt the door. Dovbush breaks it down and is shot by Shtefan. With his dying breath, he asks his fellow Opryshky to lift him on their axes and bear him to his beloved highlands.
According to The Ukranian Weekly, “In reality, the following morning his bleeding body was discovered in the bushes, and a priest was sent for. The Polish authorities sectioned his body into 12 pieces, impaled and mounted them throughout the countryside as a gruesome warning.”
Who are we to get in the way of a good legend?
Ukrainian Robin Hood story Legend of Carpathians is available on demand and on DVD from High Octane Pictures. You can also watch it on Tubi.