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Sergei Esenin and nature Perunovich, Ljubomir 1975

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Sergei Esenin and Nature by Ljubomir Perunovich Law Degree, University of Belgrade 1960 A Thesis Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in the Department of Slavonic Studies We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard The University of British Columbia Ap r i l , 1975 In presenting th i s thes i s in pa r t i a l f u l f i lment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the Univers i ty of B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree that the L ibrary sha l l make i t f ree l y ava i l ab le for reference and study. I fur ther agree that permission for extensive copying of th i s thesis for s cho la r l y purposes may be granted by the Head of my Department or by his representat ives. It is understood that copying or pub l i ca t ion of th i s thes i s f o r f i nanc i a l gain sha l l not be allowed without my wr i t ten permission. Department of S'L Ah/<> /v> t 'J TL//)/CTS The Univers i ty of B r i t i s h Columbia 2075 Wesbrook Place Vancouver, Canada V6T 1W5 Date ftr/Z/L ^ - / 7 * 7 . 5 " A b s t r a c t 1 In t h i s t h e s i s my main concern i s the p o e t r y which d e a l s w i t h Nature i n a d i r e c t manner. While a n a l y z i n g E s e n i n ' s poems I w i l l d i s c u s s such problems as: 1. The b e g i n n i n g o f S e r g e i Esenin's p o e t i c c a r e e r . 2. The r e l a t i o n s h i p between E s e n i n and the peasant p o e t s , e s p e c i a l l y K l i u e v . 3. The r e l i g i o u s and the p a n t h e i s t i c aspects o f Esenin's p o e t r y . 4. The po e t r y o f Esenin's. l a s t two y e a r s . 5. Esenin's c r a f t s m a n s h i p and l e x i c o l o g y . One o f my main t a s k s i n t h i s paper i s t o examine the s p e c i f i c r e l a t i o n s h i p between E s e n i n and Nature, by demonstrat-i n g t h a t which i s c h a r a c t e r i s t i c o f h i s view of Nature. The o l d maple t r e e , the p o p l a r s , the c h e r r y t r e e s are almost as much p a r t o f h i s i n n e r w o r l d as h i s f e l l o w men. He conveys h i s a e s t h e t i c f e e l i n g s towards t h i n g s i n Nature, i n c l u d i n g animals, through such attachment and l o v e f o r them t h a t h i s p o e t r y i s unique f o r i t s almost i r r a t i o n a l p a s s i o n . T h i s g i v e s E s e n i n ' s p o e t r y an important dimension, which i s a t the same time the s e c r e t o f h i s success as a poet. The poem "Sorokoust" w i t h i t s new themes r e p r e s e n t s the b e g i n n i n g of a new p e r i o d i n Esenin's p o e t i c work. E s e n i n , as man and as poet, f e l t deeply the changes caused by the i n d u s -t r i a l r e v o l u t i o n i n the e x i s t i n g harmony between Man and i i i N ature. T h i s was s t r o n g l y r e f l e c t e d i n the p o e t r y of h i s l a s t p e r i o d . In t h i s t h e s i s I s h a l l not d i s c u s s such problems as Esenin's urban p o e t r y , h i s p e r i o d of a s s o c i a t i o n w i t h the I magists, or the poems w r i t t e n abroad. IV I wish to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to Professor V. Revutsky for the time and help given without limits and for the warm and friendly assistance offered in the preparation of this study. I would also lik e to thank Professor I. Reid for her helpful suggestions and correcting of my English. I wish likewise to express my sincere thanks to a l l members of my committee for their help and understanding. V Table of Contents Chapter Page Introduction 1 I - The Beginning of Sergei Esenin's Poetic Career 4 Footnotes 9 II - Esenin and Kliuev 10 Footnotes 16 III - Esenin's Emotional and Aesthetic Response to Nature. Love and Beauty in Esenin's Poetry 17 Footnotes 26 IV - Sadness and Joy in Esenin's Poetry 27 V - Religious Overtones in Esenin's Poetry 32 VI - Pantheism 36 Footnotes 40 VII - Esenin's Poetic Response to the Industrialization of Russia 41 Footnotes 58 VIII- Esenin after his Trip Abroad. a) The Poet of Soviet Reality 59 b) Esenin at the Crossroad between Old and New Russia. 65 Footnotes 79 IX - Final Years: Recollection of the Russia of his Early Youth 80 Footnotes , 96 X - Esenin's Craftsmanship and Lexicology 97 Footnotes 110 Conclusion 1.11 B i b l i o g r a p h y 114 Introduction In li t e r a r y c r i t i c i s m there is not much written about Sergei Esenin, especially i f we take into account his enormous popularity in the Soviet Union as well as in the east European countries. At the time of his suicide in 1925 he was one of the most popular poets in the country. But soon after his death the public mention of him in literary reviews declined due to p o l i t i c a l pressure. This period of relative silence lasted t i l l the early sixties when the o f f i c i a l prepa-ration began for the anniversary of his seventieth birthday in 1965, which was celebrated throughout the Soviet Union as a cultural event. During the last ten years the number of scholarly works about Esenin has been steadily increasing. In the western world, unfortunately, he is s t i l l better known as the ex-husband of Isadora Duncan.* However, Nature as one of the central themes in Esenin's poetry has so far been neglected by the c r i t i c s ; mainly i t has been analyzed sporadically, subordinated to other aspects of his work. The main task of this paper is to discuss some questions that seem relevant to this broad subject of Nature in Esenin's poetry. The organisation of this study is essentially based on the chronological development of his poetry beginning with his f i r s t attempts. The character of Esenin as a poet cannot be propel ly understood without studying the role of the peasant poets in his formation, l-'or that reason one chapter of this paper deals with the inlLuencc of Nikolai Kliuev on his early works. 2 The chapter on Esenin's emotional and aesthetic response to Nature attempts to show Ms profound love of and close ties with Nature. The religious aspects of Esenin's poetry are included in this thesis since they are deeply rooted in his attitude to Nature. Pantheism as an intuitive and emotional approach to Nature is a distinctive feature of the poet's early works. This has been discussed in a brief comparative study which contrasts Esenin with some British Romantics, notably to William Wordsworth and Lord Byron. Perhaps the poems in which the poet rejected industrialization of Russia show best the deep sensitivity and his understanding of the harmony between man and Nature. During the last two years of his l i f e Esenin went through a serious c r i s i s which l e f t an indelible mark on his work. For that reason the poems of his last period are discussed in three groups, according to their different a r t i s t i c tendencies and moods. His craftsmanship, for the greatest part, is developed on the basis of his immediate experience with Nature. Moreover, many of his metaphors, similes and epithets are directly taken from Nature. In writing this paper <Z major problem occurred regarding the limits of this topic, namely how to focus on Nature in his poetry as an integral part of his entire work, without becoming too diffused by other aspects of his poetry. For that reason sometimes these other themes have been*discussed when i t seemed necessary to give further understanding of our topic. 1. For a f u l l e x p l a n a t i o n , see Chapter V I I I Footnote No. 1, on page 78. 4 The Beginning of Sergei Esenin's Poetic Career There is a long history of nature poetry in Russian literature: Alexander Pushkin, Aleksei Kol'tsov, Nikolai Nekrasov and others contri-buted considerably to this subject. Towards the end of the 19th Century, the theme more or less faded out of literary works. The now dominant school of symbolism stood in the way of any serious works concerned with the countryside. But with the Revolution of 1905 and the increasing migration from the countryside into the cities an interest in folklore and village l i f e became fashionable in some circles in Petrograd and Moscow. In 1912 Nikolai Kliuev, a village poet, appeared on the literary scene and was favorably received by the critics and the public. In 1916, he contri-buted a great deal to the formation of a group of peasant poets, among whom was the young Sergei Esenin. After the October Revolution, the entire subject of nature, folklore and country l i f e was treated more extensively and approached from new perspectives. Esenin began to write under two direct influences -- popular rural poetry on the one hand and the Russian classics on the other. His early poems were based on his impressions of the village world, his native Konstantinovo, Spas-klepiky and the Oka River. The time before the October Revolution is usually considered to be the period during which the greater part of his formation as the poet took place. In analysing this early period we will pay attention mainly to those qualities of his nature poetry which contributed most to the establishment 5 of his reputation. However, i n order to gain ins i g h t into the development of his craftsmanship, a number of his less successful early works w i l l be analysed b r i e f l y . "The Night"(Noch')l i s a weak poem wri t t e n i n 1911-12; the form i s very simple. Nature i s pictured as sleeping and the l i n e s are very p l a i n , almost without imagery. THXO ppeuuieT p e i c a . TeMHtra 6op He uryMHT. CojioBeM He noeT, M flepra^2 He K p u w r . CI, 326, 1911-1912) Also, there i s much r e p e t i t i o n as, f o r example, i n the t h i r d stanza: CepeCpHTCH p e n a . CepedpHTca pyneM. CepetfpnTCH T p a B a OpouieHHHx CTeneM. ( I , 326, 1911-1912) The poet i s learning his c r a f t and one can f e e l the s t r a i n behind the l i n e s . "The Birch Tree"(Berioza)^ (written i n 1913) i s a better poem. In i t s use of ornament, "serebro," "kaima," "hakhroma," i t i s l i k e t r a d i t i o n a l Russian poetry and s i m i l a r to decorative f o l k poems. I t conveys a mellow mood, a sense of s t i l l n e s s i n nature. Though written i n 1910, The Evening i s Already Here (Vot uzh vecher), i s one of the better early poems. A young lad's feelings towards Nature are charmingly conveyed i n simple language and imagery. •fl CTOIO y Aopora, ripncjiOHira!mch K HBe. ( I , 6-., 1910) 6 OT j r y H H OB3T 6OJT±>UIOM F I p H M O i i a H a i i r y Kpi.fi.iiy. (I, 63, 1910) Here is a boy in a contemplative mood gazing at the moonlight reflected from the roof of his house and admiring the abundance of light as i f i t were something miraculous. "Rosa blestit," "pesn' solov'ia," " i beriozy stoiat kuk bol'shie svechki," "sonnyi storozh stuchit miortvoi kolotushkoi." The selection of sights and sounds successfully gives the impression of a peaceful night and, in particular, of the gentle flowing together of natural things bathed in moonlight. Typical Eseninian Nature is active and often in motion: "Mesiats zapriagalsia v nashi sani"; "zarnitsa raspoiasala alyi poiasok zAri." One of the most interesting developments in Esenin's f i r s t period is the growth of his poetic awareness of Nature. This growing sensitivity can be seen in the following four poems. The four line poem, "Where the Cabbage Beds Are"(Tam, gde kapustnye griadki), written in 1910 can be considered as the fi r s t t o ihow Esenin's real poetic gift: T a M , r A e K a n y c x H H e r p H f l r a i K p a c H O M B O f l o M n o j n r a a e T BOCXOA, KmrnnoneK MajieHbKHH M a r a e 3e^ieHoe BHMH c o c e T . (I, 64, 1910) The images are taken from Nature. A connection is shown between "kapustnye griadki" and "krasnoi vodoi polivaet voskhod" which is a universal phenomenon with an effect on the whole world. The phrase"klenionochek zelionoe vymia sosiot" is characteristic of Esenin. It is a good illustration 7 c f h is method of creat ing new images, i n this case an image that r e f l e c t s both the animal and the p lant world. He adds meaning to the plant world by subtly imparting to Its q u a l i t i e s u s u a l l y a t t r i b u t e d to animals. 'Ihe d e l i g h t f u l neologism "klenionochek" s trongly suggests the word " t e l i o n o k " and t h i s poet ic t r a n s p o s i t i o n blends w i t h the r e s t of the poem i n d i c a t i n g the unity of things in Nature. ''The Echo of Winter Sounds"(Poiot zima aukaet) i s another e a r l y poem (1910) i n which we see how the poet re la tes that which i s human to Nature. The poem tells of winter as seen through the eyes of l i t t l e sparrows. A strong wind roar ing through the pine forest has brought them to the frozen windows. As a p a r a l l e l , at t h i s p o i n t , the poet introduces orphan c h i l d r e n . BopOfiMUKH HTpHBHe, KaK fleTKH C HpOTVMBHe, npvKcajmcb y OKHa. (I, 65, 1910) The image of the orphans i s strengthened by the use of c h i l d r e n ' s language: "baiukaet," "vorobyshki," "ptashki malye." This choice of d i c t i o n helps the intermingl ing of the human element w i t h the element of Nature. To see how t h i s poem achieves i t s effect, we can take, for example, the image "sedye oblaka" which has a number of nuances: c o l d , snow, the fading of l i f e , as well as a l l that i s threatening to the l i v e s of l i t t l e sparrows. The meaning of the word "oblaka" i s i n t e n s i f i e d by "sedye" which connotes gray h a i r , o ld age and the weakening of l i f e . Ibis blend of nuances i s quite successful for the l y r i c power of the poem Ties in the interweaving of the human elements and the elements of Nature. Another example of Esenin's early work is''l)o not Wander about the 8 Crimson Bushes''(Ne brodit' ne miat! v kustakii bagrianykh) (1915-1916). Here memories of a love affair mingle with extensively used images from Nature. 'Hie girl does not enter his dreams any more, "otosnilas* ty mne navsegda," and his memory of her is fading away with the sunset. C SLMM COKOM HTQmj Ha KCliCe, HeacHaa, KpacKBaa, dmia Ha o a K a T ra P03OBHM n o x a i c a H, KaK euer, jry4HCTa H cBeTJia. (I, 185, 1915-1916) Her picture is dissolved into the manifestations and objects of Nature. A beautiful romance is not obliterated but takes on new forms. IlycTb nopoM MHe nierraeT CHHHM Be^ep, HTO d u j i a TH n e c H H H Men T a , ( I , 186, 1915-1916) There is no feeling of sorrow at his loss since, for Esenin, Nature seems to be the guardian of a l l that is beautiful in human l i f e . 9 Footnotes The Beginning of Sergei Esenin's Poetic Career 1. Sergei Esenin, Sobranie sochinenii (Moskva: Izdatel'stvo Khudozhestvennaia literatura, 1966) A l l quotations of Esenin's poetry and prose are taken from this edition and are indicated below the actual lines. 2. Crake. 3. I, 78, 1913. II 10 Kliuev and Esenin After finishing school in Spas-klepiky, Esenin went to Moscow, drawn there by ambition. As he immodestly put i t , he hoped "to earn a bronze statue for himself." The f i r s t two years in Moscow were quite d i f f i c u l t for young Esenin; he did not have enough education or poetical s k i l l to write the kind of poetry that would be recognized by his contemporaries. Another problem was the multiplicity of l i t e r a r y groups and movements at that time; he was not quite sure where to direct his talent. Towards the end of 1915 he met the peasant poet, Kliuev, who was ali'eady recognized and well known in l i t e r a r y c i r c l e s . They soon became friends and Esenin was taken under the wing of a poet six years his senior, a r t i s t i c a l l y akin to him but more experienced and with connections in literary c i r c l e s . Kliuev f u l l y understood and valued Esenin's poetic world, that i s , the l i f e of the Russian countryside. In fact, Kliuev main-tained that the peasantry would play a Messianic role i n the future of Russia and this notion had a very important effect o i . the work of the young poet. It l e f t him free to feel that he could achieve his li t e r a r y ambitions without having to force his talent i n any direction that might be far from his roots. Nikolai Kliuev was self-educated, well'read, with an extensive knowledge of Russian rural l i f e and tradition. He belonged to the old sect, the "khlysty"*-, from which he gained insight into those s p i r i t u a l tendencies of Russia that have been ignored throughout history and suppressed by governments. Kliuev exercised a significant influence on Eseiun's work by developing his awareness of these aspects of the rustic culture of Russia. To write about this influence is a rather delicate task and, in order not to overemphasize Kliuev's role in Esenin's l i f e , o n e should b e a r in mind that both poets were alike in their backgrounds, a r t i s t i c influences (especially folklore and symbolism) and t h e s u b j e c t m a t t e r of their works. Our concern here is limited to the theme of Nature i n their poetry. In an extensive comparative study of the two p o e t s , i t would be important to consider in detail their similarities before they read each other's poetry. However, the idiosyncrasies of their characters made each distinct from the other as a poet. Kliuev was a l e a r n e d man with a definite set of values taken f r o m the past. His vision of the f u t u r e of Russia was an extension o f t h e dreams and desires of bygone generations, in particular, those of the Old Believers. Emotionally and intelle c t u a l l y , he was deeply committed to the past, and with a unique vision of the ideal Russia. In p u b l i c he displayed a good deal of modesty, b u t that was more the i m a g e he projected rather than a sincere feeling. Tn li t e r a r y , p o l i t i c a l , or religious gatherings he was never spontaneous, always cautious and o n guard, conspicuous in a subtle way. His knowledge of cosmopolitan culture was acquired in a calculated fashion. He never allowed himself to be completely exposed to i t . This attitude is il l u s t r a t e d in £ letter to Esenin: roji .yOb MOEI uejmfi Be/ib TO 3 H a e u i b , HTO MH C TOUOH KO3JM B JiHTepaT.vpiitw o r o p o / i e H TOJibKO no MHJIOC™ nac T e p i i H T B neM H HTO H .TOM oropo/ie ecTb ueuajio AAOBHTHX K O J f l c i u x i c a i c ' i ' v c o u , na6eraTb KOTODHX HOM C TO6OM H e o d X O A H M O /IJ1H 3/11l:\Bl-Ml It'll C ,'IV.TOBHOPO, T9.K K TeJiOCHOrO. . . ^  A carefully guarded, closed inner world w a s a n obstacle t o Kliuev's evolution 12 as a p o e t a n d t h e r e a s o n f o r h i s r e m a i n i n g w i t h i n t h e l i m i t s of r u s t i c c u l t u r e . I n t h e p e r i o d b e f o r e t h e O c t o b e r R e v o l u t i o n , K l i u e v l o v i n g l y a n d s u c c e s s f u l l y e v o k e s r u r a l R u s s i a , p i c t u r i n g a l l t h e r e q u i s i t e s and a c t i v i t i e s of e v e r y d a y c o u n t r y l i f e a n d i n t e r w e a v i n g i t s p i r i t u a l l y w i t h N a t u r e . A f t e r 1 9 1 7 h i s p o e t r y h a s a f e w b r i l l i a n t s p a r k s s u c h a s t h e p o e m s , " T h e B r o n z e U h a l e " f M e d n y i k i t ) ( 1 9 1 9 ) / T h e V i l l a g e " ( D e r e v n i a ) ( 1 9 2 7 ) a n d t h e u n f i n i s h e d w o r k / ' H i e R e m a i n s a f t e r t h e F i r e " ( P o g o r e T s h c h i n a ) p u b l i s h e d p o s t h u m o u s l y . O t h e r w i s e , i t h a s t o o m u c h r h e t o r i c a n d not e n o u g h l y r i c p o w e r . B u t K l i u e v w a s a m a s t e r o f t h e R u s s i a n l a n g u a g e . O n e o f h i s m o s t p o w e r f u l a r t i s t i c t o o l s w a s m e t a p h o r t a k e n f r o m f o l k l o r e , which h e s k i l l f u l l y a p p l i e s t o h i s p o e t i c m a t e r i a l . K l i u e v ' s I n f l u e n c e o * i E s e n i n ' s p o e t r y c a n b e s t u d i e d t h r o u g h a n u m b e r o f p o e t i c b o r r o w i n g s , e s p e c i a l l y i m a g e s : K l i u e v : " s i n ' i g a t 1 , " " v e r b y m o n a s h k i " ; E s e n i n : " s i n i a i a g a t ' , " " b e r i o z y m o n a s h k i . " S o m e t i m e s t h e p o e t i c t r a n s p l a n t i s n o t o b v i o u s : K l i u e v : Ilpocjie3HTbCH y peHKH, IIorpycTHTb y 6yrpoB... MH — ABe 6ejme CBe^KH L l e p e A JIHKOM JiecoB . 3 E s e n i n : B OTOM rojioce c d K a u e H H o r o j r y r a Cjamy H 3naKOMHH cepmry 30B. TH 3 0 B e u i b Mensi, MOH n o A p y r a , riorpycTHTb y COHUHX 6eperoB. (I, 2 2 1 , 1 9 1 6 ) E s e n i n h a d a c a p a c i t y f o r a d a p t i n g e l e m e n t s of a n o t h e r p o e t ' s a r t to h i s own p o e t i c w o r l d . K l i u e v : M a c a u — p o r ojiei-mw, •TyHKa — jmciw XBOCT. TICUIOH n p u B i v i e H M H T a e > K i 0 j H n o r o c T . f t -Esenin: T V H H — nan o a e p a , Mecsm — p tKcnK r y c b . ITjismieT n e p e f l B s o p o M B y f i c T B e H H a j i Pycb. (I, 273, 1917) The two stanzas quoted above have much in common: the rhyme, the r h y t l u n and the images, changed slightly by Esenin to suit his own poetic purpose. If the stormy clouds are like lakes and i f the moon is like a gull, then the gull can swim on waves of the lake. But what is more important, b y using the phrase "pered vzorom," he links the turbulent state of Russia to this compound image. Kliuev's stanza is a beautiful pastoral scene with a touch of fairy tale mystery. Esenin's stanza attempts more. There is also a resemblance between Kliuev's"Friendly Chat1' (Besednyi naigrish) (1916), a poem in epic form, written during the First World War, and Esenin's"Heavenly Drummer'1 (Nebesnyi barabanshchik), written at the end of 1917 or the beginning of 1918. Kliuev: Ccvmuy ac H 3a cnecb, 3 a H e n o K o p c x B o C H o r p a 3 y i o Kpac-Hhie 6axvusn, 'Eejium BOJIOC, yc JIHXOH KOcaitiH OcTpury H a BOMJIOK u i e p c x o d H T a M ; C men Ccumna uoo^aTyw r p u B R y Ko6ejfio O T A a M H a aicepe^iOK, rioBajno si K p a c H o r o c n e c u B u a Ha n c u i a T H c 6auoM u i e j r y A H B O H — POBHH Jib 6yaer coKO/ry B o p o H a ? ^ Esenin: Ecjm 3TO co./iHLr,e B 3aroBope c H M M H , — Mu e r o Bceti pa-rbfo Ha u i T H K a x n o A H M e M . ' E C f l H 3 T O T MeCHLI Apyr nx 'i'-pHoti ovum, MH e r o jvanypu K a M H H M H B oart,uioK. 14 PaaMeTeM Bee lyna, Bee flopor-H BomecHM, EydeiruoM MIJ oeixjvo K pa/tyre npuBecHM. TH 3BeHH, yBeHM HSM, MaTb-aeMJin cupasi, 0 nojjax H pomax Tojiyfioro Kpan. (II, 66, 1918) Kliuev's verses are written in the manner of a popular bard and remain philosophically and psychologically in the epic tradition. Esenin's verses are morejnodern. Images from folk literature are given a new poetic form to match the new a r t i s t i c material, Revolutionary Russia. Whether Esenin was under the direct influence of Kliuev or folk-lore or both in this poem is of less interest than the fact that he had the a b i l i t y to transcend traditional boundaries and relate traditional modes of expression to the psychology of his contemporaries. It was typical of Esenin to develop or change a borrowed image: Kliuev: "Solnyshko vpriaglos' v zolotuiu zhertvennuiu sokhu."^ Esenin: "Ryzhii mesiats zherebionkom zapriagalsia v nashi sani."'' Or Kliuev: "Smezhaet zenitsi nebesnaia bel",' Esenin: "Smert' smezhaet glaza." Apart from several of Esenin's early poeius, we cannot find a single poetic borrowing without his own a r t i s t i c seal. Moreover, reading his poems gives one the strong impression that lie was not aware of any influence upon him while writing these verses. So free and open was his approach to l i f e and aft, that he would give himself completely to an a r t i s t i c work i f i t appealed to him. However, he had enough talent to assimilate another poet's art without losing his own a r t i s t i c identity. 15 And i t is true that, due to the circumstances of his upbringing, there was a great influence of rustic culture in his formation as a poet. Nevertheless, save for his opposition to industrialization during the period between 1920 and 1922, he did not have a discriminatory attitude towards urban culture. Kliuev accepted c i t y culture conditionally. To him i t was tolerable only insofar as i t did not interfere with his vision of the future or rural Russia. But Esenin was able to outgrow the peasant poets and, in fact, his creative impulses compelled him to part with Kliuev and seek new friends with a cultural background different from his own. Footnotes Kliuev and Esenin 1. Hits religious sect of Russian Orthodox Church originated 17tli century. 2. E. Naumov, Sergei Esenin, lichnost^tvorchestvo epokha (Lenizdat, 1969), p. 48"! ? ^ 3. Nikolai Kliuev, Sochineniia, torn pervyi (Buchvertrieb und Verbog, 1969), p. 307. 4. Ibid., p. 289. 5. Ibid., p. 344. 6. Ibid., p. 406. 7. II, 27, 1917-1918. I l l Esenin's Emotional and Aesthetic Response to Nature  Love and Beauty in Esenin's Poetry Two themes dominate Esenin's poetry -- love and beauty, both deeply rooted in his experience of Nature. Certain biographical details may help to elucidate these aspects of his poetry. In memoirs written by his friends and family there are a number of passages which indicate how intimately the poet was bound to Nature. His sister, Alexandra, wrote in the l i t t l e biographical sketch of her brother how h e r parents, i n order to have more land to plant potatoes cut the "creeping cherry" i n their garden. The incident had a sad and painful effect on the children. In connection with this incident she refers to her brother's"Letter to Hy Sister"(Pis'mo k sestre) (1924): OTiry KapTcdpejib Hy.xeH. HaM 6hui HjwceH eafl. H cafl pydnjiH, Re., pyhwrn, AyiUKa! 06 3TOM 3Haex Moi-cpan noAyuiKa FfeMHCKCKO. . . C e M b . . . Mjib BoceMh jieT Ha3afl. ( I l l , 149, 1925) From both the memoir and the poem we gather that tears were shed and that the incident stayed alive i n their memory as i f they had lost a fellow being very close to t h e m . Another poem,"The Maple Tree"(Klion) (1925) is a unique work: perhaps a tree has never been described elsewhere with such tender love. A childhood companion, one that stirred the poet's imagination, is growing old. '11 ic poem parallels his feelings as a child and as a man. On the one 18 side there i s the innocence and warmth which he f e l t towards t h e t r e e as a child: RjieH Tbi MOH o n a H i i n H , KJieH 38JieReH.ejsjM, MTO CTOMUib HarHVBUIHCb n o A MeTejibK) dejioM? H J M HTO y B H A e J i ? IAJM HTO ycMm&Ji? CJIOBHO 3a A e p e B H W n o r y j u r r b TH Emieji. ( I l l , 216, 1925) And then the feelings of the grown-up man: H , y T p a T H B C K p O M H O C T b , O A y p e H I I H B A O C K y , KSLK JKeny ny-Kyio, o d r a i M a j i 6epe3Ky. ( I l l , 216, 1925) In V a s i l i i Kachalov's^ reminiscences there is an interesting anecdote about Esenin. On coming home l a t e one evening, Kachalov found the house f u l l of guests and Esenin among them playing with the dog^Jim. The t p o e t devoted most of his attention to the animal and their playing together a l l evening drew the attention of the assembled company. Several days later Esenin returned to read to Jim, i n the presence of his master, UCfo Kachalov's Dog"(Sobake Kachalova) (1925). Many phrases used the previous night during the game with the dog were incorporated into the poem. Much of Esenin's poetry was created immediately after the inspiration occurred. This contributes greatly to the sincerity and directness of his art. Later in the same year, 1924, Kachalov went with a theatre troupe to Baku, where Esenin was i n hospital. After hearing that Kachalov had come, t h e poet grew very restless and sent a messenger to inquire w h e t h e r t h e dog Jim w a s with the group. Esenin said, " I f the dog comes, my condition w i l l improve immediately." He was waiting for Jim a s one might w a i t f o r a good friend in a moment o f need. 19 The theme of the poemM Tt9 Kachalov's Dog"is a happy animal which everybody loves and treats kindly. Tn contrast to that love, the poet te l l s of his own grievances against human society. He opens his heart to Jim and wants to share the dog's feelings towards the world of Nature. Hail, /1)KHM, H a c ^ a c T b e j i a n y une, TaKyw ^ i a n y He Bn#aji H cpoAy. .^asaM c TOSOH ncuiaeM npn jryHe Ha Tuxyro, 6eciiryMHyio noroAy. .ZJaM, /t«nM, H a c ^ a c T b e Jiany MH& . ( I l l , 137, 1925) He also wants to explain to Jim "chto zhit' na svete s t o i t . " Finally, he confides to the dog the sorrow of a broken relationship: OHa npiweT, ASM Te6e nopyKy. H d e 3 MeHR, B ee y c T a B H C h BSVJUJA, TH 3 a MeHH Maun e'vi u&mo p y K y 3a Bee, B ^ieM 6HJI H He 6wi BHHOBaT. ( I l l , 138, 1925) 'Hie two themes, love and beauty, comprise human aspects of nature and have to be analyzed i n broad perspective. It would be a d i f f i c u l t task to distinguish Esenin the man from Esenin the a r t i s t . He never settled in one place. There was no routine to his l i f e or work. Many of the poems were created at parties or in the company of other people and then set down on paper in a quiet corner or later in his l i v i n g quarters, which were often in his friends' homes. He did not have a l i f e of his own apart from his art. Whatever he was doing when lie was not writing poetry seems to be related to his a r t i s t i c needs. He did not make much of an effort to maintain his fam.il)- l i f e and deserted three wives. And yet the role of women in Esenin's l i f e (as evidenced in his poetry) was very important. However, in terms of time and attachment 20 t h e y c a n b e c o m p a r e d t o h i s p o e m s . W h a t w a s m o s t i m p o r t a n t f o r h i m w a s t h e c r e a t i v e e x p e r i e n c e . T h e d i s c o v e r y o f a w o m a n w a s s i m i l a r t o t h e w r i t i n g o f a p o e m . A f t e r w a r d s , t h e r e w a s a l w a y s a n o t h e r p o e m t o b e c r e a t e d a n d s o m e t i m e s a n o t h e r w o m a n t o b e d i s c o v e r e d . H o w e v e r , E s e n i n s a w h i s r o l e a n d p u r p o s e i n l i f e a s r e a c h i n g people t h r o u g h h i s a r t . H e Ka>K&HM y M e e T n e x b , H e KaxflOMy flaHO HCT O K O M riaflaTb K HyacHM HoraM. (II, 99, 1920) N o t e v e r y o n e c a n b e a p o e t a n d d i v i d e h i s s o u l b e t w e e n p o e m s , w h i c h a r e l i k e g i f t s t o t h o s e w h o r e a d t h e m . B a u m x flyiu 6e3^mcTBeHHyio oceHb M i i t ; HpaBHTCH B noTeMKax ocBemaTb. (II, 99, 1920) H e l i k e s t o " i l l u m i n a t e " t h e s o u l s o f t h e u n f o r t u n a t e m e n w h o n e v e r e x p e r i e n c e d s p r i n g i n t h e i r s o u l s . B y g i v i n g m o s t o f h i s l i f e t o p o e t r y , h e p r e v e n t e d h i m s e l f f r o m e s t a b l i s h i n g c o n v e n t i o n a l t i e s , s u c h a s a s t a b l e f a m i l y l i f e a n d s t e a d y f r i e n d s h i p . F o r e x a m p l e , h e l e f t K l i u e v a f t e r r e a l i z i n g t h a t t h e i r r e l a t i o n -s h i p n o l o n g e r s t i m u l a t e d h i s c r e a t i v i t y . H i s a r t i s t i c f r e e d o m a n d d e t a c h -m e n t f r o m e v e r y d a y l i f e a n d h i s a c c e p t a n c e o f t h e w o r l d w i t h a n o p e n s o u l h e l p e d t h e h i g h m o b i l i t y o f h i s e m o t i o n s a n d i n t e r e s t s , t h u s , h e g a v e h i m s e l f c o m p l e t e l y t o e a c h p o e m a n d t h a t i s w h a t m a k e s h i s p o e t r y s o p e r s o n a l a n d s o e l e c t r i f y i n g . O n e o f h i s g r e a t e s t l o v e s w a s R u s s i a i t s e l f a n d h i s c o n c e p t i o n of h i * ' i o d i n a ' ' c o i n c i d e d w i t h t h a t o f t h e c o u n t r y s i d e : 21 0 Pycb — MajMHOBoe ncvie H cnHb, ynaBUiaa B peny, — (I, 216, 1916) He also gives us scenes of happy rustic l i f e in his descriptions of sky, meadows, peasants' huts, songs to an accordion accompaniment and ploughmen. At one point he exclaims: ECJM KpuKHeT paTb CBHTan: "KnHb TH Pycb, HCHBH B paio!" H CKa)Ky: "He Haflo pan, /laHTe poAHHy MOIO. " (I, 117, 1914) No one since Esenin has written about Russia with such tender and sincere love. The October Revolution called forth a new feeling and vision of Russia: "Pliashet pered vzorom buistvennaia Rus'." This is now the typical mood of Esenin's poems* If, at one time, he had identified his homeland with Nature "malinov <?.e pole," now he identifies i t with the Revolution whose s t i r reaches out i n a l l directions and becomes a universal force. He turns against Kitezh and RadonezhJ and^in prophetic lines^promises the country of Inonija a new paradise -- "gde vladeet bozhestvo zhivykh." The theme of beauty can be found to a greater or lesser extent i n almost every poet's work. With Esenin the theme has special qualities and the beauty of the world of Nature and human beauty are often interwoven. The manner of combining them is highly imaginative. Here is an example: H njiHUieT cywpaK B rajionben TpeBore, CorHyB JiyHy B nacTyuiecKMH pcwcoK. (I, 227, 1916) With the words "pliashet" and "pastushcskii rozhok" Nature is poetically 22 transformed into dance and music. 'Die falling of darkness is described as the dancing of twilight. The latter expression has a human connotation. Kith fairy-tale imagination, the poet lulls how the twilight squeezes the moon into the shape of a shepherd's horn, which gives music for its dance, and artistically projects human activities onto natural forces. Esenin's beauty is never cold: Ky/rpHBHH cyMpan 3a ropoH PVKOK) Maine T SejiocHeiiCHoH. ( I , 196, 1916) . And the two lines above imply a friendly visitor waving his hand. He experienced Nature through an abundance of different emotions. OnHTb H TenjioM rpycrbio 6ojieu OT oracHHoro BeTepKa. ( I , 216, 1916) K'e can imagine the poet coming back to his village from Moscow accustomed to the dull city smells and suddenly smelling "veterok speloi rzhi." He does not t e l l us directly what a beautiful and infinitely pleasant feeling it creates in him; perhaps an average city poet would do that but, since i t can be read between the lines, Esenin tells us something deeper, more personal, "ia tjbploi grust'iu bolen." What helps to make his poetry so extraordinary is this capacity to omit meanings which the reader can divine on his own. FT TH, nan H, B ne^ aju.:»• .ii Tpede, 3a6HB, KTO flpyr rede H Bpar, 0 po30BOM TOCKyeuib nede H rcuryuHTHiix oo\;i»i icax. 0, 18'!, 1915-1916) His longing for "rozovoe nebo" and "golubyc oblaka" also shows how deeply 23 the world of Nature was rooted in him. Sometimes Esenin expresses tender feelings towards the objects of Nature: Xopoma TH, o 6ejiasi r y i a f l h l TpeeT KpOBb MOIO JieTKHH Mopo3l TaK H xoieTCH K Tejy npuscaTb OdHajKeHHHe rpyan 6epe3. (II, 28, 1917-1918) At times he is simply entranced. BeceHHHH Be^ep. CHHHM ^ac. Hy K a n :ice ne JEcdHTb MHB Bac, KaK He joaSviTb m-ie B a c , uBeTH? .H c BaMH BHnn^i OH Ha "TH".& (III, 73, 1924) In Esenin's poetry animals are conceived of as an extension of the world of Nature, without distinctions between domestic and wild ones. Usually they arepictured i n moments of suffering. For an i l l u s t r a t i o n we caii take the poem"The Fox"(Lisitsa) (1916). A poor animal is mortally wounded. The fading of i t s l i f e is revealed through i t s heightened awareness, typical in such moments. There are many signs of imminent death: "razdroblennaia noga," "yystrel," "sochilas' tikho krov'." The elements of the natural scene are selected and presented in a sequential manner as i f seen through the eyes of the dying animal, to indicate a gradual weakening of i t s l i f e and the in e v i t a b i l i t y of i t s end. There is the animal's dizziness and feebleness of sight: "kolykhalasia v glazakh lesnala top'." 'lhe loss of strength makes the animal defenceless against the elements, nuiably against cold: Ha KVCTOB KOCMarhiii BeTep B30"HCTPHJI M pacouitaji 3Boi-u-iciyio Apoo'b. (I, .198, 1916) 24 The semblance of mist: "kak zhelna, nad neiu mgla metalas'" (semblance, since the wind would very l i k e l y have cleared the air) points out farther decline of the fox's eyesight. The scent which the animal used, at one time, as a guide to find food and to avoid danger now picks up the sulci ! of death: "Pakhlo ineem i glinianym ugarom." There is no more strength i n the animal or in Nature to hold onto l i f e ; death comes quietly without resistance: "A v oshchur sochilas' tikho krov 1." The a r t i s t i c power of Esenin's imagination is deeply rooted i n his intuition and emotions. The; l i t e r a r y c r i t i c A l i a Marchenko has pointed out interesting example of the poet's intuition and close observation of Nature. EceHHH He TcuibKO no-nacTOHupMy jse6ivi "pa3yMHyio nojirb",- HO H noHHMaji ,,HeH3peH,eHHHe AVIUM" 3BepeM — Aap peAKOCTHHH, yHHKaJIbHHK, nOHTH HaHHGTO VTpaHeHHhlH cOBpeMeHHHM HejiOBeKOM. EceHHH, Hanpwviep, nepBHM H30-6pa3HJi BOJiKa, BonpeKH Kan cpo^KJiopHoM, TaK H JiHTepa-xypHOH TpaAHUHH, He npocTO onacHhM H 3jam XHIUHHKOM, a pHUapeM, ".ffHHHOCTbK) KSiK JKHBOe" C pa3BHTHM 4VBCTBOM codcTBeHHoro ACCTOKHCTBa H necm — HHTepnpeTarrtiH 3Ta TCwibKO B caMoe nocjieAHee BpeMH nojQ/Hvma npasa .mpa>K-AaucTBa cpeAH 6HOJioroB.5 Maxim Gorky praised the poet particularly for his love of animals. "In my opinion he was the f i r s t in Russian literature to have written about animals with such s k i l l and sincere love." Gorky even called him "That most gifted and most Russian of Poets. The poetry of Sergei Esenin leaves one with the profound impression that sunsets and sunrises, f i e l d s , lakes, sky, trees and animals v/i.th their innocent sufferings, are as much a part of his intimate world as his relations with his fellow men. Thus, he writes of objects and manifestations of Nature with the same warmth, kindness and L;ve he shows in writing of human beings. Perhaps this is one of the most important aspects of his poetry. 25 In this way he brings Nature closer to man and men closer to each other and this may explain the perfect blending of human imagery and Nature imagery in his poetry. 26 Footnotes Esenin's Emotional and Aesthetic Response to Nature Love and Beauty i n Esenin's Poetry 1. V a s i l i i Ivanovich Kachalov (1875-1948), a distinguished actor of the Moscow Art Theatre. 2. According to the legend, "The Shining ci t y of Kitezh" descended uncorrupted to the bottom of a trans-Volga lake, at the time of the f i r s t Mongol invasion. 3. Radonezh (thirty miles northeast of Moscow) , s i t e of a well known monastery Sviataia Troitsa, founded by Sergei Radonezhskii. 4. Russian TH (ty) i s equivalent to the old English "thou", and i t i s used among friends. BH (vy) i s a formal way of addressing, and stands for English "you". There i s a custom i n Russia for new friends to take a drink with linked hands and c a l l each other "ty." 5. A l i a Marchenko, Poeticheskii mir Esenina (Moskva: Sovietskii pisatel', 1972), p. 70. 6. Maxim Gorkii, On literature, Selected Articles (Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, n.d.), p. 354. IV S a d n e s s a n d J o y i n E s e n i n ' s P o e t r y S a d n e s s i s o n e o f t h e s t r o n g e s t m o o d s i n E s e n i n ' s p o e t r y , p a r t i c u l a r l y i n t h e l a s t p e r i o d o f h i s l i f e a n d m u c h o f i t i s c o n v e y e d t h r o u g h t h e i m a g e r y o f N a t u r e . W h e n a u t u m n c o m e s t h e l e a v e s f a l l a n d , g r a d u a l l y , ) t h e g r e e n v e i l t h e f o r e s t i s r e p l a c e d b y a w h i t e c o v e r . T h e s u c c e s s i o n o f s e a s o n s b r i n g s a v a r i e t y o f c h a n g e s : t h e r e i s s a d n e s s a n d y e t , a t t h e s a m e t i m e , t h e r e i s j o y w i t h o n e e x p r e s s i o n , o n e f o r m o f b e a u t y r e p l a c e d b y a n o t h e r . 3e^ieHaH nprnecKa, fleBHHecKaH r p y A b , 0 TOHKan 6epe3Ka, ^TO 3 a r J i H f l e j i a c b B n p y a ? ( I I , 5 4 , 1 9 1 8 ) I n t h e d e s c r i p t i o n o f " T h e B i r c h T r e e " t h e r e i s a t f i r s t j u s t a h i n t o f s o r r o w — " Z a g l i a d e l a s * v p r u d ' " a n d t h i s s o r r o w b e c o m e s o b v i o u s i n • t h e t h i r d s t a n z a : H noj!K6vui nenajshimji TBOH n p e . A C c e H H H H UTVM. ( I I , 5 4 , 1 9 1 8 ) T h e a u t u m n a l s o h a s a n e f f e c t o n h u m a n l i v e s : t h e s h e p h e r d h a s t o r e t r e a t f r o m t h e m e a d o w s a n d f o r e s t s : H TaK, B3floxHyBuiH rjrydoKO, CKa3aJi rioA 3BOH BeTBeH : ' T l p o i u a H , MOH rojrydKa, Ro HOBMX a y p a a/ieH". ( I I , 5 5 , 1 9 1 8 ) I n t h e p o e m " M y S t r o l l a f t e r t h e F i r s t S n o w ' ' ( l a p o p e r v o m u s n e g u b r e d u ) ( 1 9 . 1 7 - 1 9 1 8 ) E i o n i n p o r t r a y s h o w w i n t e r g i v e s l a n d s c a p e s a n e w f o r m \ 2 8 o f b e a u t y . 0 JiecHafr, ApeMyHafl MyTb! 0 Becejibe ccHeaceHHtrx HMBI .. Tan H xo^eTCH pyKH coMKHyrb H a A ApeBecHtMH 6eflpaMn HB. ( I I , 2 8 , 1 9 1 7 - 1 9 1 8 ) F o r E s e n i n t h e c h a n g e f r o m a u t u m n t o w i n t e r h a s i n f i n i t e l y g r e a t e r p o e t i c m e a n i n g t h a n t h e c o m i n g o f t h e o t h e r s e a s o n s ; i t g i v e s h i m a c l o s e r l o o k a t d e a t h a s a n a s p e c t o f l i f e . I n h i s p o e t r y h e o f t e n u s e s t h e e p i t h e t " t o s k a z h u r a v l i n a i a " i n v a r i o u s c o l l o c a t i o n s . I n t h e f a l l t h e c r a n e s f l y s o u t h a n d i n t h e s p r i n g t h e y r e t u r n . T h e y f o l l o w t h e c h a n g e i n N a t u r e a n d , f o r t h e p o e t , t h e y a r e s y m b o l s o f s a d n e s s , o f p a r t i n g . O f p a r t i n g , t h a t i s , d y i n g , w h i c h i s p a r t o f l i v i n g . E s e n i n ' s s o r r o w o r i g i n a t e s i n t h e d e s t r u c t i o n o f l i f e a n d i t s b e a u t y . I n o n e i n s t a n c e i t i s t h e k i l l i n g o f a m o t h e r s w a n b y a n e a g l e l e a v i n g t h e l i t t l e o n e s u n p r o t e c t e d . O n a n o t h e r o c c a s i o n , i t i s t h e h a r v e s t i n g o f t h e w h e a t a n d t h e w h o l e p r o c e s s o f t u r n i n g i t i n t o b r e a d . E s e n i n d o e s n o t s e e s u f f e r i n g a s a n i s o l a t e d i n c i d e n t , b u t r a t h e r i n b r o a d p e r s p e c t i v e , a s a n a c t a g a i n s t t h e o r d e r o f N a t u r e . I n t h e u P o e m a b o u t B r e a d " ( P e s n ' o k h l e b e ) ( 1 9 2 1 ) , t h e p o e t v i e w s h u m a n e x i s t e n c e a s b a s e d o n t h e d e s t r u c t i o n o f l i f e a n d b e a u t y . BOT OHa, cypoBaH jicec TOKOC Tb, r^ e Becb CMHCJI — cxpaAaHHH JBOfleHl P e a c eT c e p n TXitzejMe KO^ocbH, KaK noA r o p j i o pe:icyT J i e d e A e M . ( I I , 1 0 3 , 1 9 2 1 ) F o r t h e p o e t t h e s t a l k s o f g r a i n a r e a l s o f l e s h and man, b y u s i n g t h e p r o d u c t s o f t h e h a r v e s t , a s s u r e s h i s o w n s u r v i v a l b u t , a t t h e same t i m e , sows in himself the seeds of mortality which ultimately lead to his s e l f -destruction and death. Bee no6oH pscn B npunen OKpacuB, rpyrjocTb ^Hyiujix cxcaB B AVXMOTHH COK, OH BKyuiaKuuiM cojioMeitHoe MHCO OTpaBJiHeT sepHOBa KIIIIIOK. (II, 104, 1921) Because of this man is bound to die, and that i s the very source of his mis-fortune. Suffering i s one of the aspects of l i f e through which Esenin conceived the unity of man and Nature. Mis a r t i s t i c achievement lay i n his a b i l i t y to convey sorrow through images of the cycles of Nature and not tv*> treat i t as an isolated and morbid experience. In the"Poem about the Dog" (Pesn* o sobake) (1915) the poet f i r s t describes the episode i n which a peasant drowns the puppies, and then he focuses on the pain of the mother dog: A Korfla HVTb n^iejiacb oCpaTHO, CjM3HBaH nOT c 6OKOB, riOKa3ajiCfl evi MecHir wap, xaToM OflHHM H3 ee 11^3 HKOB. B CHHMO BHCb 3BOHKO TjisiRejia. OHa, cxyjm, A M e C H I T CKOJIb3HJI TOHKHH H CKDHJICH 3a XOJM B nOJKLX. K vjiyxo, Kan OT noAa^KH, KorAa dpocHT eM KaweHb B CMex, LTOKaTHJIHCb rvia3a co6aHbH 3oJIOTHMtl 3Be3flaMH B CHer. (I, 178, 1915) Associating her grief with "mesiats," "zvrozdy," "siniuiu vys'" and "khftim" seems to be a way of diverting attention from the poor animal as i f to ease i t s pain. More than that, i t il l u s t r a t e s Esenin's capacity to see and convey the beauty of the world beyond immediate sorrow. Joy and sadness may be expressed simultaneously in his poetry: H nycKaM co 3EOHaMH njiayyT rviyxapti, EcTb TOCKa Becejian B ajiocxnx 3apn. (I, 68, 1910) or: H ApeiuuieT Pycb B TOCKe CBoeM Becejiofi, BuenHBiiiH pyKH B scejiTtiM KpyxociuioH. CI, 227, 1916) Quite often in the same poem or even in the same li n e , Esenin expresses different poetic feelings and notions with a perfect blending which is a mark of his poetic craftsmanship. Joy of l i f e (with other overtones) rings through Esenin's early poetry, imparting youthfulness, optimism, and playfulness to his art. Ha jia3opeBHe TKam-r l ipoma najibuH CarpHHeu;. B TeMHoM poup, no nojimie, rUiaHex CMexoM dydeHeu.. (I, 146, 1915) The joyful movements of Nature at the coming of spring are v i v i d l y portrayed in the sprouting of branches and accompanied by the sleigh b e l l , His rather unrestrained imagery becomes poetically convincing in: CnH~ee Hedo, upeTHBH Ayra, THXO CTeriHhie deryx depera, THHexcH AUM, y MajtMHOBtjx ceji CBaflbda sopoH od^ervia n a c T O K O J i . (I, 235, 1916) Such surrealistic expressions as "malinovye s i o l a " or "svad'ba voron" 31 are a r t i s t i c a l l y strengthened by the melodiousness and the joyful tone of the poem. V R e l i g i o u s O v e r t o n e s i n E s e n i n ' s P o e t r y I n t h e e a r l y E s e n i n , h i s c o n c e p t i o n o f r e l i g i o n c o i n c i d e s t o a g r e a t e x t e n t w i t h t h a t o f N a t u r e a n d h u m a n b e i n g s . R e l y i n g h e a v i l y o n s u c h f o l k l o r i c s o u r c e s a s p o p u l a r l e g e n d s a n d r e l i g i o u s p o e m s , h e b r i n g s C h r i s t i a n i t y c l o s e t o t h e e a r t h . S t r i k i n g e x a m p l e s a r e t h e p o e m s " M i k o l a l ( a n d " E g o r i i ' ' w h i c h d i f f e r l i t t l e f r o m p o p u l a r s t o r i e s . T h e p r o t a g o n i s t s o f t h e C h r i s t i a n f a i t h m o s t l y d w e l l i n f o r e s t s a n d f i e l d s a s i f i n t h e i r n a t u r a l a m b i e n c e : MeiJXffy c o c e H , uexAy ejioK, Meac <5epe3 K y f l p n B i J x d y e , IIOA B e H K O M , B K O J I b u e HTO.flOK, Mne MepemjiTCH Hcyc. ( I , 1 2 1 , 1 9 1 4 ) H e a v e n i s a l s o h e r e o n e a r t h : OH 3 0 B e T MeHH B A y d p O B H , K a K BO u a p c T B u e H e d e c , (I, 1 2 1 , 1 9 1 4 ) T h e o b j e c t s o f N a t u r e a r e a s s o c i a t e d w i t h r e l i g i o n : " v e l i a k h k r y l i a k h e r u v i m a , " " i v y k r o t k i e m o n a s h k i . " O n t h e o t h e r h a n d , E s e n i n ' s C h r i s t a n d S a i n t s a r e r e a l h u m a n b e i n g s . I n t h e p o e m " G o d W e n t t o T r y M a n ' s C o m p a s s i o n " ( S h . e l g o s p o d 1 p y t a t ' l i u d e l v l i u b v i ) ( 1 9 1 4 ) , G o d , a p p e a r s i n t h e d i s g u i s e o f a p o o r o l d m a n i n o r d e r t o l e a r n h o w h u m a n s b e h a v e t o w a r d s t h o s e w h o a r e p o o r a n d s u f f e r i n g : JIoRomji r o c n o A b , CKpHBan CKOpdb H MyKy: BHAHO, MOJI, c e p A u a KX He pa3dyAi-sub.. . H CKa3aji CTapHK, npoTSTTtiBasr pyny: " H a , noayH... MajieHbKO Kperr-ie r;yAeuib". ( T , 1 0 9 , 1 9 1 4 ) 33 T h i s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f r e l i g i o n i s i n n o c e n t a n d r e f l e c t s a l a c k of r e l i g i o u s fear. G o d i s a g o o d o l d m a n w h o c a r e s a b o u t t h e p e o p l e . O n e of t h e b e s t poems o f t h i s k i n d i s . . _ " A C a n o n f o r W h i t s u n d a y M o r n i n g " ( T r o i t s y n o u t r o u t r e n n i i kanon) ( 1 9 1 4 ) . T h e a t m o s p h e r e o f t h e h o l i d a y i s c o m m u n i c a t e d t h r o u g h words r e f e r r i n g t o t h e r i t e s , e . g . : " u t r e n n i i k a n o n , " " o b e d n i a i a " ; t h e n t h r o u g h t h e b l e n d i n g o f t h e c h u r c h b e l l s o u n d s w i t h t h e w h i t e c o l o r o f t h e b i r c h g r o v e : " V r o s h c h e p o b e r i o z k a m b e l y i p e r e z v o n . " T h e p o e t c a p t u r e s t w o e l e m e n t s , t h e r e l i g i o u s a n d t h e n a t u r a l o n e , a n d i n t e r w e a v e s t h e m i n t o a s i n g l e m o o d o f f e s t i v i t y . I n t h e p o e m " l W i l l F a c e t h e W o r l d i n t h e G u i s e o f a H u m b l e M o n k " ( P o i d u v s k u f ' e s m i r e n n y m i n o k o m ) ( 1 9 1 4 ) , t h e p o e t e x p r e s s e s a m o r e i n t i m a t e d e s i r e t o e n c o u n t e r t h e e l e m e n t s o f N a t u r e a n d t o s h a r e t h e l o t o f " b o s i a k i " ( v a g a b o n d ^ , a t t h e s a m e t i m e c a r r y i n g i n h i s h e a r t t h e r e l i g i o u s n o t i o n o f l i f e . CHacTJiHB, KTO B paflocTH y d o r o M , JKHBH oe3 flpyra H B p a r a , LTpoMfleT npocejiOHHoM floporoK, MojIHCb Ha KOilHU H CTOra. ( I , 1 0 7 , 1 9 1 4 ) T h e r e i s a d i s t i n c t d i f f e r e n c e i n r e l i g i o u s o v e r t o n e s , b e t w e e n t h e e a r l y E s e n i n a n d h i s w o r k f r o m 1 9 1 7 t o 1 9 2 0 . D u r i n g t h e l a t t e r p e r i o d h i s r e l i g i o u s f e e l i n g s w e r e u n s t a b l e . H e g r e e t e d t h e F e b r u a r y a n d O c t o b e r R e v o l u t i o n s e n t h u s i a s t i c a l l y . His- a r t i s t i c r e s p o n s e w a s m a n i f e s t e d i n a n a t t e m p t t o s e e t h e w o r l d - - h u m a n l i v e s a n d n a t u r e - - t h r o u g h t h e p e r s p e c t i v e o f R u s s i a ' s s o c i a l u p h e a v a l b u t a n t i c i p a t i n g a n e w and more h u m a n e order, n o t o n l y i n h i s h o m e l a n d b u t i n t h e w h o l e u n i v e r s e : 34 /la sflpaBC TBye T peBCwnonHH Ha aeMJie H Ha Hedecax! (II, 66, 1918) The poet showed special concern for "wooden" Russia: the Revolution has to purify r u r a l culture and tradition, which would now play the main role in the l i f e of the country. One of the chief political wbjectives of the Revolution was to smash the power and influence of the church. Esenin's poetic reaction to this was contradictory. There are poems, as for instance •"Transfiguration"'(Preobrazhenie) (1917), where the cosmic elements are extensively used to convey the foreseen cataclysmic changes. "0 Bepyw, Hedo BcneHHTCH, KaK JiaM, CBepKHeT BOJiHa. Hafl pou$3io omeHHTCH 3-flaTHM 1UBHKOM .ayHa. (II, 14, 1917) In addition, he gives voice to a genuine religious interpretation of the Revolution: 3peeT nac npeodpa/fceHbH, OH coMfleT, Ham oBeTJsm TOCTB, Ho pacnHToro TepneHfaH BbmyTb BHpacaBJieHHbiM rB03flb. (II, 16, 1917) In his work we also f i n d a certain amount of blasphemy, a precursor of another tendency -- the forcing of a new revolutionary content into the old Christian images. The poem"lnoniia"(1918) is about the promised land created by the poet's imagination; i t was supposed to replace the legendary "k'itezh grad." At the same time he blasts the old dreams: "Proklinaiu ia dykhanie kitezha" and the symbol of ChristJmity: 35 TeviO, XpuOTOBO TCJIO EhauieBbiBaio 1430 pra. ( I I , 33, 1918) Then comeshis promise: Odewaio BaM rpafl HHOHPDO, Tfle acHBeT ficcKecTBO >KHBHXI ( I I , 35, 1918) Towards the end of the poem he uses religious images, attempting to give them new content as i f the old meaning had been destroyed by the blasphemy. PaAyHcH, CnoHe, ITpojiHBan CBOH CBeTl HOBHH B H e 6 0 C K J I 0 H e Bbi3pe^i Ha3apeT. After 1920, Esenin seldom uses religious terminology. VI 36 Pantheism Pantheism is a dominant t r a i t in Esenin's poetry, particularly i n his early period. His belief i n the unity of man, Nature and the universe is based on intuition, emotion, and imagination. Though i t lacks "rational" grounds, his conception is s t i l l philosophically sound. A comparison between him and some Br i t i s h romantics, especially William Wordsworth, may help to explain his approach. A classic example of pantheism i s Wordsworth's "Tintern Abbey." In this poem, Nature is good; i t s forms and sounds are beautiful; in i t one can rest, meditate and think, inspired by the varied landscapes whose meaning goes beyond appearances; one can also safely show one's emotions without any risk of getting hurt. For I have learned To look on nature, not as in the hour Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes The s t i l l , sad music of humanity, Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power To chasten and subdue. And I have f e l t A presence that disturbs me with the joy Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime Of something far more deeply interfused, Whose dwelling i s the light !" setting suns, And the round ocean and the l i v i n g a i r , And the blue sky, and in the mind of man: A motion and a s p i r i t , that impels All thinking things, a l l objects of a l l thought, And r o l l s through a l l things.1 The' tendency among romantic poets \A/$$ to pour out their emotional response to natural phenomena; but their response "is based, to a greater or lesser extent, on rational theories, such as materialism, paleontology, etc. S cientific discoveries had aesthetic meaning for them. For V/ordsworth the "favored souls" were "chiefly those to whom the ha:monious doors/Of 37 s c i e n c e h a v e u n b a r r e d c e l e s t i a l s t o r e s . " ^ W h a t m a k e s E s e n i n u t t e r l y d i f f e r e n t f r o m t h e w e s t e r n p o e t s i n g e n e r a l i s t h e p e c u l i a r i t y o f h i s t i e s w i t h N a t u r e . I f w e t a k e a s a n o t h e r i l l u s t r a t i o n a f e w l i n e s f r o m L o r d B y r o n ' s " C h i l d e H a r o l d " : A l l H e a v e n a n d E a r t h a r e s t i l l : f r o m t h e h i g h h o s t O f s t a r s , t o t h e l u l l e d l a k e a n d m o u n t a i n - c o a s t , A l l i s c o n c e n t e r e d i n a l i f e i n t e n s e , W h e r e n o t a b e a m , n o r a i r , n o r l e a f i s l o s t , B u t h a t h a p a r t o f B e i n g , a n d a s e n s e O f t h a t w h i c h i s o f a l l C r e a t o r a n d D e f e n c e . T h e n s t i r s t h e f e e l i n g i n f i n i t e , s o f e l t . I n s o l i t u d e , w h e r e w e a r e l e a s t a l o n e ; A t r u t h w h i c h t h r o u g h o u r b e i n g t h e n d o e s m e l t , A n d p u r i f i e s f r o m s e l f : i t i s a t o n e , T h e s o u l a n d s o u r c e o f M u s i c , w h i c h m a k e s k n o w n E t e r n a l h a r m o n y , a n d s h e d s a c h a r m L i k e t o t h e f a b l e d C y t h e r e a ' s z o n e , B i n d i n g a l l t h i n g s w i t h b e a u t y ; - - ' t w o u l d d i s a r m T h e s p e c t r e D e a t h , h a d h e s u b s t a n t i a l p o w e r t o h a r m , 3 We f i n d t h a t i t i s t h e i n t e l l e c t b e h i n d t h e s e l i n e s w h i c h c o m b i n e s t h e p h i l o s o p h y , a e s t h e t i c s a n d s i n c e r e e m o t i o n s i n t o a b e a u t i f u l v i s i o n o f t h e w o r l d a s a u n i t y . A n d y e t B y r o n i s c o m p a r a b l e t o a m a n w h o g r e w u p e l s e -w h e r e a n d i s j u s t d i s c o v e r i n g h i s h o m e l a n d , a n d j o y f u l l y d e s c r i b e s i t s b e a u t y . T h e w a y h e s e e s a n d f e e l s t h e n a t u r a l s c e n e i s a r t i s t i c a l l y r e m a r k a b l e b u t a t t h e s a m e t i m e h i s r e s p o n s e i s w i t h o u t i n t i m a c y , w i t h o u t e m o t i o n a l l y d e v e l o p e d t i e s . A r t h u r B e a t t y , i n p a r a p h r a s i n g W o r d s w o r t h , s a y s : " P o e t r y p r o c e e d s f r o m f e e l i n g s ; b u t t h e o n l y f e e l i n g s w h i c h a r e a e s t h e t i c o n e s a r e t h o s e w h i c h h a v e t h e i r o r i g i n i n i n t e l l e c t u a l i d e a s ; a n y o t h e r e m o t i o n , o r f e e l i n g i s n o t w o r t h y o f p o e t r y . . " 4 T o a p p l y s u c h a n e x t r e m e v i e w t o E s e n i n ' s p o e t r y w o u l d p r o b a b l y m e a n i t s d i s m i s s a l . O b v i o u s l y , i t i s a d i f f i c u l t t a S K Io e x p l a i n h i m i n t e r m s o f 38 w e s t e r n c u l t u r e . H i s p o e t r y i s b a s e d o n d e e p b o n d s w i t h N a t u r e w h i c h a r e , p e r h a p s , a s m u c h b i o l o g i c a l a s e m o t i o n a l a n d a r e o f t e n f o u n d a m o n g t h e R u s s i a n p e o p l e . C o s m o p o l i t a n c u l t u r e h a s o f t e n b e e n p r e j u d i c i a l t o t h e d e v e l o p m e n t o f s u c h f e e l i n g s . W h a t s e e m s a p p a r e n t t o t h e R u s s i a n p o e t i s t h a t m a n d o e s n o t h a v e t o s e v e r h i s c l o s e t i e s w i t h N a t u r e i n o r d e r t o c o m p r e h e n d u r b a n c i v i l i z a t i o n ; O n t h e c o n t r a r y , i f p r e s e r v e d , t h e y m a y b e o f t h e g r e a t e s t a s s i s t a n c e t o t h e a t t a i n m e n t o f t h e f i n e s t h u m a n a c h i e v e -m e n t s . F o r E s e n i n , l i v i n g a n y w h e r e b u t i n h i s n a t i v e c o u n t r y m e a n t w e a k e n i n g s o m e o f h i s t i e s w i t h N a t u r e a n d a t t h e s a m e t i m e w i t h t h e s o u r c e s o f l i f e . T h i s i s r e f l e c t e d i n m a n y o f h i s p o e m s , e s p e c i a l l y i n t h o s e o f t h e l a s t y e a r o f h i s l i f e . R e c e i v i n g a n d f o r m i n g i m a g e s o f t h e n a t u r a l w o r l d w a s a t t h e r o o t o f E s e n i n ' s a r t i s t i c e x p r e s s i o n . ( T h i s q u e s t i o n r e c e i v e s m o r e a t t e n t i o n i n t h e l a s t c h a p t e r ) . A s p e c i a l k i n d o f p e r c e p t i o n e m e r g e s : t h i s i s i m a g i n a t i o n c o m b i n e d w i t h t h e i n t u i t i v e a n d e m o t i o n a l p o w e r t o c o m p r e h e n d t h e e n t i r e l i f e a n d s c o p e o f N a t u r e . M e n a n d b e a s t s a r e s e e n a s p a r t o f t h e g r a n d d e s i g n o f N a t u r e a n d t h e u n i v e r s e . A n d y e t e a c h o b j e c t h a s a s p e c i f i c m e a n i n g a n d l i f e o f i t s o w n . I n d e s c r i b i n g t h e c o n c r e t e o b j e c t s o f N a t u r e , E s e n i n i n t u i t i v e l y s e l e c t s t h e u n i v e r s a l m a n i f e s t a t i o n s o f l i f e . A r t i s t i c a l l y t h i s i s d o n e b y f u s i n g d i f f e r e n t i m a g e s o r c o n v e y i n g d i f f e r e n t f e e l i n g s s i m u l t a n e o u s l y . A s i n g l e i m a g e i s a m o r e c o n c r e t e m e a n s o f p o e t i c e x p r e s s i o n t h a n a c o m b i n a t i o n o f t w o i m a g e s , e s p e c i a l l y i f t h e t w o r e v e a l d i f f e r e n t p o e t i c e x p e r i e n c e s . I n a n y c a s e , i t w o u l d r e q u i r e d e e p e r a r t i s t i c d e l v i n g i n 39 order to find a common ground that unites them. Thus: HHBH cxa.ru, pornw VOJW, OT BOflH TyMaH H CNpOCTb. Ko^iecoM 3a CHHH ropn Cojome THXoe cmraflocb. (II, 27, 1917, 1918) Tliis is a concrete description of autumn linked to universal laws and changes, namely to the movement of the sun. The poet draws a paral l e l between a wheel lost behind a mountain (which, for those who are travelling, means a period of waiting before they can recover i t and continue their journey) and the sun moving into a position from which i t cannot give out sufficient energy to foster the l i f e of Nature. By relating these images the poet, on a deeper level, links the concrete and the universal. In this manner, his pantheistic vision penetrates beyond the immediacy of l i f e . Footnotes Pantlie i sin 1. William Wordsworth, The Poetic Works of Wordsworth (London: Oxford University Press, 1928), p. 206. 2. William Wordsworth, Poetic Works (Oxford, 1940-9), p. 12. 3. Lord ByTon, The Poetic Works of Lord Byron (London: Frederick Iv'arne), III, lxxxix, xc. 4. Arthur Beatty, William Wordsworth, His Doctrine and Art i n their Historical Relations (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 19~6l), p. 117. V I I 4 1 E s e n i n ' s P o e t i c R e s p o n s e t o t h e I n d u s t r i a l i z a t i o n o f R u s s i a E s e n i n ' s r e a c t i o n t o t h e i n d u s t r i a l i z a t i o n o f R u s s i a c a m e q u i t e s u d d e n l y w i t h h i s h e a r t - b r e a k i n g p o e m " S o r o k o u s t , " w r i t t e n i n 1 9 2 0 . H e f o r e s a w t h e e f f e c t s o f t h e i n d u s t r i a l i z a t i o n t h a i was j u s t b e g i n n i n g t o t a k e p l a c e . A n i n c i d e n t , w h i c h m i g h t h a v e s e e m e d r a t h e r i n s i g n i f i c a n t t o an o r d i n a r y m a n , o c c u r r e d o n h i s t r i p t o t h e C a u c a s u s . A s h i s t r a i n p a s s e d t h r o u g h t h e p l a i n s o f s o u t h e r n R u s s i a , a y o u n g c o l t r a c e d i t f o r s e v e r a l k i l o m e t e r s ; t h i s c h e e r e d u p a l l t h e p a s s e n g e r s e x c e p t t h e p o e t w h o , a t f i r s t , h a d b e e n f r e n e t i c a l l y s h o u t i n g a n d e n c o u r a g i n g t h e a n i m a l t o k e e p u p w i t h t h e t r a i n a n d t h e n , w h e n t h e s i g h t o f i t w a s l o s t , b e c a m e v e r y s a d . T h i s s e r v e d a s t h e b a s i s f o r h i s p o e t i c v i s i o n o f t h e f u t u r e . H e b e g i n s t h e p o e m o m i n o u s l y w i t h " P o g i b e l ' n y i r o z h o k , " w h i c h a n n o u n c e s t h e f o r t h -c o m i n g d e s t r u c t i o n o f t h e c o u n t r y s i d e : " t o t p o s i o l o k i e t i l u g a , " t h e r e i s n o h i d i n g f r o m t h e e n e m y w i t h a n i r o n b e l l y . T h e v i l l a g e a c c o r d i o n s p r e a d s t h e s a d m e l o d y w h i l e t h e a n i m a l s r u n f r o m t h e m e n a c e : " M o l c h a d ' n i k b y k p o c h u i a l b e d u n a d p o l e r a " E v e n t h e t r e e s r e a c t d i f f e r e n t l y . T h e n , i n b r o a d ' s t r o k e s , t h e p o e t p r e s e n t s t h e c o n f r o n t a t i o n b e t w e e n t h e v i l l a g e o n t h e o n e h a n d a n d , o n t h e o t h e r , t h e n e w , m o r e t e c h n i c a l , a p p r o a c h t o l i f e a n d N a t u r e , 0, 3JieKTpHHeCKHH BOGXOA, PeMHeM H Tpyd rvryxaH xBaxKA, Ce H36 ApeBeHHaTHH >KHBOT TpnceT CTajibHaH jiHxopaAKa! ( I I , 9 1 , 1 9 2 0 ) F o r t h e p o e t t h e r e s u l t o f t h e r a c e b e t w e e n t h e t r a i n a n d c o l t s y m b o l i z e s a c h a n g e i n t h e e n t i r e r e l a t i o n s h i p b e t w e e n m a n a n d N a t u r e t h a t l i a s 4 2 e x i s t e d s i n c e i m m e m o r i a l t i m e s . T h e p o e t ' s r e a c t i o n i s e x p r e s s e d i n c o n c r e t e e x a m p l e s o f t h e p r o b l e m , p a r a l l e l i n g t h e u n i v e r s a l e f f e c t s i n t h e b a c k g r o u n d . O n o n e l e v e l , m a n ' s e m o t i o n a l w o r l d i s t h r e a t e n e d a n d , o n t h e d e e p e r l e v e l , , c e r t a i n a s p e c t s o f N a t u r e m a y b e c o m p l e t e l y d e s t r o y e d . M m r a K , MHJMH, c M e u n - i o H pypajiefi, H y K y s a OH , n y f l a OH TOHMTCH? EeyMBJO) ou ne aHaeT, HTO MCHBHX K o n e M r i o d e A m i a CTa^rtHaH Kouwuua? ( I I , 9 3 , 1 9 2 0 ) W i t h m u c h w a r m t h a n d k i n d n e s s h e d e s c r i b e s t h e i l l u s o r y a t t e m p t o f t h e p o o r a n i m a l w h i c h , i n i t s i n n o c e n c e a n d a n i m a l p r i d e , i s f i g h t i n g f o r s u p r e m a c y o v e r t h e f i e l d s . H o w e v e r , t h e o u t c o m e o f t h e r a c e c a n n o t p r e v e n t t h e e s t a b l i s h m e n t o f t h e n e w o r d e r . T h e r o l e o f t h e l i v e h o r s e i n N a t u r e a n d i n h u m a n l i v e s i s g o i n g t o b e r e p l a c e d b y t h e " i r o n h o r s e . " E s e n i n r e a c t e d i n t u i t i v e l y a n d w i t h h i s w h o l e b e i n g a g a i n s t t h e d e s t r u c t i o n o f a n y f o r m o f l i f e . B e s i d e s b e i n g c o n c e r n e d w i t h a c h a n g e i n t h e b i o l o g i c a l b a l a n c e b e t w e e n m a n a n d N a t u r e w h i c h w a s b o u n d t o g r o w w i t h i n d u s t r i a l i z a t i o n , t h e p o e t w a s a l s o v e r y k e e n l y a w a r e o f t h e d i s -t u r b a n c e o f a e s t h e t i c a n d e m o t i o n a l t i e s - - i n t h i s c a s e , t h e b o n d b e t w e e n h o r s e a n d m a n . I n t h e p a s t , n o t o n l y h a d t h e h o r s e b e e n a b e a u t i f u l a n i m a l w h o s e s p e e d a n d s t r e n g t h w a s a l w a y s a s o u r c e o f a d m i r a t i o n , b u t a l s o m a n y h u m a n a d v e n t u r e s w o u l d h a v e b e e n i m p o s s i b l e w i t h o u t i t s p a r t i c i p a t i o n . E s e n i n w a s f u l l y a u a r e o f t h e r o l e p l a y e d i n h u m a n p s y c h o l o g y b y t h e h o r s e a n d o t h e r o b j e c t s o f N a t u r e . B y 1 9 2 0 S o v i e t R u s s i a h a d a c c o m p l i s h e d l i t t l e i n t e r m s o f i n d u s t r i a l i z a t i o n . T h e g o v e r n m e n t w a s j u s t d e v e l o p i n g p l a n s f o r i t a n d s u p p o r t e r s o f t h e n e w i d e a s w e r e b e g i n n i n g t o t h i n k i n n e w t e r m s . 43 That is to say, they were viewing l i f e in terms of future industrial development. With his keen perception, liscnin was able to grasp the s i g n i f i -cance of the coming changes, but in his own way, with poetic concerns that most of his contemporaries were not aware of. The c r i t i c s oversimplified and interpreted his attitude as opposition to the Soviet Government. The poet's desire to dramatize this change in the conception of the world was perhaps chiefly due to his profound attacliment to the pre-revolution harmony between man and Nature which had been the basis of his poetry. The new men dreamed of technical achievements: dams, factories, highways; they saw the countryside in practical terms through the kolKhiPZ and the tractor. The poet was afraid that disruption of the harmony of Nature and a change i n human relationship with i t would degrade and impoverish human beings. This is an eternal problem, but the circumstances under which the poet deals with i t are rather rare i n human history: there were cataclysmic changes i n Russian society which simultaneously affected tkQ relations of human beings to each other, and the relation of society as a whole towards Nature. It was only at a later time that the problem revealed i t s e l f f u l l y and the poet was able to grasp i t s magnitude. However, at that early period, the train was inconceivable in his poetic world. MepT 6u Basui ie6a, cicBepHHH rocxb! Hauia necHH c TOCOM ne cxuBeTCH. (II, 93, 19?(l) He feels himself to be a "Psalomshchik" (psalm-reader) singing " A l l e l u i a " to his native country. The trees are described as standing i n the shadow of forthcoming changes. TOJIOBOH pa3M03';l<aCb o nviereHb, 06jaum.Cb KpoBbio Hrofl pn6HHa. (II, 94, 1920) This gloomy vision of the countryside is extended to the Russian Muzhik. H COJIOMOK nponaxuiuM MJOKHK 3ax/ie6HyjicH JMXOH caMoroHKoM (II, 94, 1920) In "Sorokoust" the poet laments the disappearance of the village world and forthcoming industrialization that i s going to cripple Nature and destroy i t s meaning and longestablished image. Another poem, "Volcnia gibel'", grows into a protest and a cry of h o s t i l i t y towards the city. Topc-A, ropoAl TH B cxBaTKe acecroKOH OKpecTiM Hac nan naAajib H Mpa3b. CTbrneT nojie B TOCPCB BOJIOOKOM, Tejierpac|5HT.MH CTOJ\6aua AaBHCb. (II, 109, 1922) Ful l of despair the poet blames the c i t y , the protagonist of the new fate of Russia. The conflict between the c i t y and the v i l l a g e is reflected in the image of a wolf encircled by hunters who, at any moment, may put iron claws on i t s wounded and exhausted body. The poet identifies with the animal which, i n i t s last moments of l i f e , desperately charges at one of his enemies. 0, npraBex Te<5e, 3Bepb MOH «WX5HMHH! TH HeAapoM Aaeutbca Haxy. KaK H TH — H, OTBCKV'IV rOHHMHH. CpeAb acejie.TnHX BparoB npoxaicy. (TI, 110, 1922) Tlie wolf s>nnbolizes the wild l i f e and a certain type of freedom, which 45 t h e p o e t w a n t s t o s a v e a n d p r e s e r v e . T h e m o s t i m p o r t a n t a s p e c t o f E s e n i n ' s p o e t r y i s h i s v i s i o n o f the i n t i m a t e t i e s b e t w e e n R u s s i a n m a n a n d N a t u r e t h a t h a d d e v e l o p e d f r o m i m m e m o r i a l t i m e s . H e p r e s e n t s t h a t v i s i o n a t a c r u c i a l p e r i o d o f R u s s i a n h i s t o r y , a t t h e b e g i n n i n g o f a n e w e r a t h a t r e p r e s e n t s , a m o n g o t h e r t h i n g s , a t r e m e n d o u s s c i e n t i f i c a n d t e c h n o l o g i c a l d e v e l o p m e n t w h i c h i s b o u n d t o c h a n g e m a n ' s e n v i r o n m e n t s i g n i f i c a n t l y a n d w i l l a f f e c t h i s p s y c h o l o g y a s w e l l . E s e n i n ' s c o n c e r n w a s t o s a v e t h e l o n g e s t a b l i s h e d r e l a t i o n o f m a n t o N a t u r e ; t h a t i s w h y h e w a n t e d t o p r e s e r v e " T a i n s t v e n n y i i d r e v n i i m i r " i n t h e n e w R u s s i a . I n 1 9 2 0 , h e s e n s e d i t s d i s a p p e a r a n c e a n d t h e c o m i n g a l i e n a t i o n o f m a n f r o m N a t u r e a n d h i s p o e t i c r e p l y t o i t w a s f u l l o f d e s p a i r . I n t h i s p e r i o d ( 1 9 2 1 ) h e a l s o w r o t e " P u g a c h o v " , u s u a l l y c a l l e d a h i s t o r i c a l d r a m a . I n s p i t e o f t h e f a c t t h a t E s e n i n t o o k t h e e v e n t s o f t h e s t o r y a n d a l s o t h e c h a r a c t e r s f r o m t h e p a s t , t h e w o r k i s c l o s e l y r e l a t e d t o t h e p o e t i c c o n c e r n s e x p r e s s e d i n h i s o t h e r p o e m s o f t h a t t i m e . T h e p o e t e x p e c t e d " P u g a c h o v " t o b e c o n s i d e r e d h i s m a s t e r p i e c e a n d w a s b i t t e r l y d i s a p p o i n t e d w h e n i t w a s c o o l l y r e c e i v e d b y t h e p u b l i c . F r o m t h e l i t e r a r y p o i n t o f v i e w , t h e w o r k i s q u i t e i n t e r e s t i n g f o r i t s u n u s u a l c o m b i n a t i o n o f d i f f e r e n t a r t i s t i c e l e m e n t s . I t i s h i s t o r i c a l d r a m a , b a s e d o n a t y p i c a l e p i c t h e m e , b u t w r i t t e n i n l y r i c v e r s e a n d , t o a g r e a t e x t e n t , N a t u r e i s u s e d t o e x p l a i n t h e e v e n t s o f t h e s t o r y a n d t h e a c t i o n s o f m a n . T h e u p r i s i n g o c c u r s o f f - s t a g e a n d i s p r e s e n t e d t h r o u g h s e v e r a l c h a r a c t e r s i n w h o m t h e e v e n t s a r e r e f l e c t e d . T h e p o e t p u r p o s e l y a v o i d e d 46 descriptions of actual fighting in order to attract the attention of the reader to some of the issues hidden behind the actual events that he f e l t to be important but less conspicuous. This was a suiprise to the public, which expected to see the movements of the masses and the defeat of the Tsarist armies. As a result, the point that Esenin was trying to make was missed. Alexander Pushkin i n his novel Kapitanskqja.Doch did not pay enough attention to the characters of the men who led the rebellion. Esenin went to another extreme; he completely ignored the leaders of the opposite side and concentrated on the human drama of the protagonists of the rebellion, their zest for l i f e and superhuman effort to overcome a l l obstacles. It i s true that this work cannot measure up even to the most lenient requirements of h i s t o r i c a l drama. Thus, "Pugachov" should be regarded as a unique l i t e r a r y creation with both strong and weak points. Its most noticeable shortcoming i s the attribution of imagist language and figures of speech to Eighteenth Century characters. Yet, despite the omission of the struggle between the two armies and the failure to present the opponents of Pugachov, Esenin gave this work a specific kind of unity. The characters are shown not on the main hist o r i c scene but either before the events, in preparation for them, or after the disaster, facing the consequences. The actual poem begins with Pugachov's journey and his arrival at the Cossak village in the Urals. The sufferings of the oppressed population and the rumors of a possible revolt have attracted b i n to this region. From the beginning, i t is noticeable that Pugachov feels and 47 speaks about men and their destiny in terms of Nature. He appeals to Nature for help in executing his plans: 0, noMorn :Ke, c Ten nan Mrvia, rpO."!f-rO CBepUlHTb MOM 3aimcejil (II, 154, 1921) In the same manner, some contemporary people (the more old-fashioned ones, of course) would say "God help me" at d i f f i c u l t moments of their lives. A l l of the characters speak the same language. Thus, when Pugachov asks the guard "Is that the right moment for the Muzhiks to attack the landlords?" lie answers: BVSRQJI JOi TH, KaK Koca B jqjvy CKaneT, PTOM >tcejie3HMM: nepeKycHBaH Horn TpaB? OTToro HTO C TOUT TpaBa Ha KOpHHKaX, Ilofl cedn KopeHbH noAodpaB. H HHKyfla eM, TpaBe, ne CKpHTbCH OT ropHHHX 3ydOB KOCH, rioTOMy HTO He Mcwcex OHa, KRK nraua, 0TOpBaTbCH OT 3e jvUIH B CHHb. TaK H Mbl! BpOCJIH noraMM KpOBH B H3dH, HTO HaM nepBHH PHA rioAKcmeHHOH TpaBH? TOJDOKO JMUh AO Hac ne Aodpajmcb dn, TOJIbKO HaM ^'U, TanbKO d HauxeM He CKOCHJIH, KaK poMauiKe, TCUIOBH. Ho Tenepb KaK dyATO npodyflmincb, H depe3aMH san^iarexninJH Haul TpaKT OnpyicaeT, KaK lyMan OT cbipocra, HMH MepTBoro HeTpa. (II, 155/6, 1921) The local Cossacks had k i l l e d two officers while resisting an order to pursue a tribe of Kalmuks which fled towards Mongolia. They turn to Pugachov to be their leader and help them to continue the rebellion. Rumors were circulating among the peasants that Peter III, who had died not long ago in a power struggle with Catherine the Great, had come to 48 l i f e a g a i n . According t o t h e popular belief he was a k i n d r u l e r . In t h e i r folklore t h e Russian people usually s i d e d w i t h those who n e e d protection or a r e defeated. In order t o a t t r a c t t h e Muzhiks t o t h e cause, lYigachov accepted the advice of h i s friends t o impersonate Peter. In t h e monologue of the guard Karavaiev, t h e description of autumn subtly suggests a correlation between Nature and human destiny in the forthcoming events. TblCHHy HepTeM, THCHHy BeflbM H TtlCHHy RbSJBOJlOBl 3KHli RQXAh I 3KHH CKBepHHH ACWCflb J CKBepHHH, CKBepHHHI CJIOBHO BOHKHaH MOHa BOJIOB JIbeTCH c Tyi Ha n o j i n H AepeBHH. CKBepHHH ROKAbl 3KHM CKBepHHH ACM«BI KaK CKSJieTH TOIJJHX McypaaaeH, CTOHT oujj-maHHHe Bepdn, rijiaBH pefiep Meflb. yk 30«rc>THe HHu;a jmcTbeB Ha seujie HM flepeBHHHHM 6pioxoM He corpexb, He B H B e c T H n T e n n o B — 3ejieHHx BepdeHHT, IIo ropjry HX CKO^ib3Hy;i ceHTfldpb, KaK HCOK, H KOCTH Kptui JIOMaeT Ha UJe<5HHK OceHHHH flCOiWb. XOJIOAHHH, CKBepHHH AOWb. 0 o c e i a , o c e H b ! TojiHe K y c T H , KaK cc^opBaHiiH MOKHyT y flopor. CH, 164, 1921) Perhaps we can consider this as t h e setting f o r t h e events t h a t a r e t o take place later. At any rate, this gives the tone a n d t h e atmosphere o f t h e rest of t h e poem. In a symbolic passage, autumn i s presented as a battle f i e l d after t h e fighting i s over. Just as fal l e n leaves which the change of season has brought down c a n n o t be revived and have no continuity, 49 SO the men fallen at each others' hand share the same destiny. The character of Pugachov is unveiled in the conversation with the guard. On his return to the camp, after spying on the enemy's posts, he talks to Karavaiev: SaBTpa » K yTpy dyseT HCHan noroAa, CHBHM TafiyHOM npocica^eT XMapb. CjryuiaH, Beflb K H3 npoc-Toro poRa H cepflueM TaKOH ace CTenHoM AHKapb! H yMeio, Ha cyrKH H B e p c i H He Tporancb, CjiyiuaTb der BeTpa H TBapn mar, OTToro, H T O B rpyflH y ueusi, KaK B depuiore, BoponaeTCH 3BepeHHUieM TenjMM flyuia. Mne HpaBHTGH 3anax Tpanw, XOJIOP,OU noAcoKsceHHoM, H ceHTHfipbCKoro jmcTOjie'Ta npoT&acHHH CBHCT. (II, 167, 1921) The characterization of Pugachov in such statements as "Serdtsem stepnoi dikar'" or "vorochaetsia zverionyshem tioplym dusha" reflects a profound knowledge and perception o f Nature. To give us a better understanding of the above expressions, we have an interesting remark made by Esenin to his friend the painter, I l i a Ryzhenko: EHBas B TOCTHX y PtKceHKO, EcemtH uopojiry ptwcH B ero ofi-beMHCTHX nariKax, paccTaa/ifTJi OTJOAH Ha CTyjibHX, Ha noflOKOHHHKe, na CTOJIB . . . CMOipeji, Kanaji TOJIOBOH H roBopHJi: — y xedn, Hjnana, npHMO codanbH jnodoBb K npupoAe! — FIoHeMy ace codaibH? — yAiiBJifuiCH xyAoacHHK. — Ila. nan Tede CKa3aTb... MHe Ka^rCeTCH, HTO no-Hacxo-HiUPMy jncdnx H noHHMajoT npupofly TOvtbKO acHBOTHHe... M eiue pacTeHKa... A HHBie JBQRK xojibKO npHXBopHioxcH, HTO ^nodHT, — HM yace HeneM jnc6nTb... TH TCtfce, no-MoeMy, He HejiOBen, a dojibuian, yuHan H Aodpaa cod a i d . . . H ecjm Tedn ./IHCKOBO norjiacAHTb, TH pacTporaeiitbCH H 3an\7iaHeiirb codanbMMH cuesaMH...1 Esenin also adds another aspect of the hero's personality: concern for his fellow man. 50 EeflHHe, CeAHhie MHTeiKHHKH, EM uBejM H uryMejni, nan pcoxb. BauiH rojioan KOJiochsma HOKHHMH Pac Kan iXBaji wo«bCKnM ACttCAb. Bw yjm6ajMCh TBapmi.. . ( T T , 168, 1921) Here h u m a n b e i n g s are s e e n p a r a l l e l t o o b j e c t s o f N a t u r e . P u g a c h o v i s d e v o t e d t o h i s r e b e l s a n d t h e i r c a u s e . H e d i s m i s s e s w i t h d i s g u s t t h e p o s s i b i l i t y o f g i v i n g u p e v e r y t h i n g a n d g o i n g t o t h e T u r k i s h s u l t a n . H e f e e l s b o u n d t o r e m a i n and f i g h t . ^TOO-H BCKunejia MecTb 3OJIOTOK) iryproH aKauHH, (II, 169, 1921) A n o t h e r c h a r a c t e r t o w h o m t h e p o e t p a y s p a r t i c u l a r a t t e n t i o n i s t h e c o n v i c t K h l o p u s h a . T h e s t o r y i s t h a t h e w a s o f f e r e d h i s f r e e d o m i f h e w o u l d f i n d P u g a c h o v a n d d e l i v e r h i m i n t o the h a n d s of t h e g o v e r n m e n t . B u t , i n s t e a d o f b e t r a y i n g h i m , h e b e c o m e s o n e o f h i s m o s t f a i t h f u l a s s o c i a t e s . O n the b a s i s o f t h i s s t o r y E s e n i n b u i l d s a p o w e r f u l p e r s o n a l i t y . A f t e r t h r e e d a y s o f w a n d e r i n g , K h l o p u s h a f i n d s t h e c a m p . H i s f i r s t r e a c t i o n i s t o t u r n t o t h e s t o r m y w e a t h e r w h i c h f o l l o w e d h i m a l l the way a n d t o q u e s t i o n N a t u r e as i f" t o d i s c o v e r h i s d e s t i n y . CyMaciiieAuiaH, 6emeuasi KpoBaBan Myrb! HTO TH? CMepxb? ¥ij\h HCue^eHbe KajieKaM? (II, 174, 1921) T h e n h e t e l l s o f h i s u r g e t o see the l e a d e r . T h e p o e t b e a u t i f u l l y d e s c r i b e s K h l o p u s h a ' s s t r u g g l e wi th the e l e m e n t s . 51 Si TDH flHfl H TPH HOHH f J J i y K f l a J I 110 XponaM, B cojiOHue PHJI rviasaMH yaany, BeTep Bcuiocbi MOH, K3.K cojioivry, xpenaji H uenaMH flcuc/jH odMOJiaHMBOJi. Ho 03jio6jieHHoe c e p f l u e HHKoryr.^  He 3adj iyf lHTCH, 3ry r o j i o B y c men cuintfHXb He j i e r K O . (II, 174, 1921) Nature also helped him to survive and gave him strength, i t s beauty feeding his s p i r i t : OpeHdyprcKaa 3 a p n KpacHOiiepcTHoM Bep5jDqfl,Hn;eM PaccBexHoe poHHJia MHe B poT MCUIOKO. H xovioflHoe KOfviBoe EHMH CKB03b TbMy lIpKKHMaJI H, KaK XJie6, K HCTOUPHHHM BeKaM. npoBeAHTe, n p o B e f l H T e MeHH K HeMy, Si x o n y BHflexb axoro nejioBeKa. (II, 174, 1921) Khlopusha's l i f e s tory as a tramp and outlaw i s , at the same time, the story of a superhuman e f f o r t for physical and moral s u r v i v a l . He rejects the government's offer and refuses to betray Pugachov because his l i f e as an outlaw had not destroyed h i s moral f e e l i n g s . He puts the common cause above his personal well-being. Esenin bypasses the period of Pugachov's victories and power except for mentioning the siege of Orenburg and the fact t h a t , at one point , a t h i r d of the country was i n rebel hands. He describes at length the breakdown of morale among the r e b e l s . A bad omen precedes the rumors of defeat. Cxon, 3apydnH! TH, H a B e p H o e , He c/Mxaji. 3xo Bna,eji He a... Apy-riie... MHorne.. . OKOJIO CaMapu c npodnToi;i SaiiiKoii o-flbxa, KanaH xejinm MoaroM, ripMxpaMbiBaex r i p n Aopore. 52 C J I O B H O cjieneu, O T BaTarw CBoen O T C T O B , C THycaBoM H xpnn^ioH ApcoKbW B pBanyio uianny BopoHbero rne3Aa npocin.' ona Ha nponnTanbe y npoe3JKHX H n p o x c o K u x . Ho H H K T O eM He dpoc-HT Aasce KaMHH. B Hcnyre Kpecracb Ha 3Be3Ay, Bee GHHTajOT, HTO 3TO CTpaillHOe 3HaM6HHe, IIpeflBeiiJaKiupe defly. H T O - T O dy;ieT. MTO-TO ROJbmO CJiyMHTbCH. ToBopHT, HaoTyriHJi vjiap H Mop, no cry pa3 Ha JieTy dyyeT CK/ieBHBaTb nraija HejiysoHHoe CBoe cepedpo. (II, 179, 1921) This is a symbolic vision of the forthcoming catastrophe. By introducing this episode Esenin delves deeper into the psychology of the Eighteenth Century. From time immemorial man has t r i e d to understand Nature and to have i t on his side. Correlating natural phenomena to a future event that involves human actions i n an attempt to foresee the results ahead of time is an old Slavic custom which was described as far back as "The Lay of Igor's Campaign': Toryra nocMOTpe^i Hropb H3 CBeT«aoe cc/ii-me n yBHfleji, H T O TbMa O T Hero Bee B O H C K O noKpmia. H CKa3aJi Hropb ApyacHHe CBoeii: "SpaTbtf H flpyacHHaJ Jlynuie B duxBe nac-rb, HeM B nOJIOH CflaTbCH. A CHZ*eM, dpaTbn, Ha C B O H X dop3HX KOHeM, norjiOTHM Ha C H H H M J\OH'." 3anajia KHH3IO AyMa /Jpna Bc:.uiKoro OTBSflaTb H 3HaMeHHe nedecHoe <.ty sac/iorn-Ma. " X o n y , — C K i i 3 a v i , — nonbe npe.noMHTb y G T e n n nojioBeuKoH c BawH, pycHHH! X o n y ro^ioBy ct>oio cjict-XHTb jrado HcnuTb UiejiOMOM H3 /l,oHy".2 The news of a terrible defeat of Pugachov's army is brought by a survivor, Chumakov: 0 3Ta HOHb I Kai< MormibHue nwm, Ho nedy T H H V Kaneio-nje odjiaKa. Buivreuib B none, 30Beuib, 30Beuib, rOiHHeuii, orapyio paTb, HTO jiervia nc-A Capern 'oH, 53 H TJltfAHUXb H He BHfllUIIb — TO JW 3H<5HTCH pOKb, To jm jtaeA-me nojiHHma nJiaitywMX CKe^eTOB. HeT, 3TO He -iBrycT, KorAa ocHnaioTCH OBCH, Koryj,a BeTep no nojimt ax KOJIOTHT AydHHKOH rpydoM. MepTBHe, MepTBHe, nocMOTpnTe, npyroM MepTBenH, (TI, 183, 1921) Th\S description of the b a t t l e f i e l d after the slaughter is one of the poet's l ios t powerful l y r i c passages. It is seen through the eyes of the survivor, who, in nightmarish manner, describes the skeletons of his comrades moving in the fields of rye. He feels both sorrow and sincere regret that he is not lying there with the rest of the army. The peasants receive the news and are uncertain whether to leave Pugachov for their farms or side with him i n a desperate attempt to reverse the results of the battle. The Cossack Burnov bursts out with sudden zest for l i f e : KaK ace CMeprb? Pa3Be uBCjih 3Ta B cepflue noMec THTCH, Korfla B TIeH3eHCKOH rydepmiH y Meid ecrb CBOH AOM? Eajmo COJIHHUIKO MHe, JicajiKO Mecnii, MaJIRO TOnOJEb USA HH3KHM OKHOM. Ta/IbKO flJIH aCHBHX BeAb 6 JiarOCJIOBeHHH POUJH, nOTOKH, C T e n H H sejiewi. CjryiuaM, njieBaxb MHe na BCIO BcejieHHyio, ECJM 3aBTpa 3flecb He dyoeT MeHH! fl xony acHTb, acHTb, :«HTb, SCuTb AO cipaxa H 6OJVA[ XoTb KapMaHHHKOM, XOTb 3CUIOTOpOTn©M, Jhwb 6u BKAeTb, KaK MHIM OT paflocra npHTaioT B TIOJIB, Jhmb 6H c/mmaTh, Kai< JwryiiiKH OT B o c r o p r a nowr B KOJiORtie. R6J10HOBWA. u B e T O M (5pH3;KeTCH Ryuia. M O H 6ejjasi, B CHHee njiaMH BeTep rvia3a pa3flyji . PaR'A 6ora HaynnTe MeHH, HayMHTe MeHH, H rr MTO yroflHO cflejiaio, Gae.iaio HTO VTC-AHO, HTO6 3BeHeTb B He^ iOBeHbeM ca/ry! (II, 186/7, 1921) 54 These lines are particularly interesting since, in less than five years, the poet was to commit suicide. A heightened awareness of l i f e and i t s beauty is of ten f e l t by men facing v i o l e n t or sudden death— i f they are not overwhelmed by f e a r . 'Hie Cossack Tavrogov suggests to his comrades that they should capture and deliver Pugachov to the enemy, convincing everybody that i t i s their only chance of survival. At f i r s t Pugachov cannot understand why his associates have turned against him and tries to convince them to f o l l o w him to Asia where they can regain their strength and return with new forces. Only when he is bound and wai t ing to be delivered to his enemy does he f u l l y r e a l i z e his hopeless position. Ifle >K TH? fee 5K TH, 6hU]3Sl MOUlb? Xoneuib BCTaTh — H pyKOK) He Moxeurb flBHHVTbCfl" ICHOCTb, lOHOCTb" KaK MaHCKaH HOHb, 0T3BeHejia T H HepeMyxoK B eienHoM npoBHHUHH. B O T Bcn^iHBaeT, BcnviuBaeT CHHb HoraaH H S A ^ O H O M , T H H B T MHTKOio rapbK) c cyxMX nepejiecHH. 3o.fl0TOK> H3BeCTKOH Hafl HH3eHbKHM flOMOM BpH3^ CeT IIOipOKHH H Tei'lVIHH MeCHL*. Tfle-TO xpunvio H HexoTH KVKapeKHeT neTyx. B pBaHHe H03flpH ITHJIbK) HHXHeT OKOJIKUa, H Bee flajibine, Bee pajume, BCTpeBaKHBUiH C O H H H H jryr, BeacHT KOJiOKOjibHHK, noKa 3a ropoM He pacKOjieTCH. Boace M O H ! Keyu&ejm npnuuia nopa? Heyacejib nofl AyuioM Tan ace naaaeiin,, KaK noA iiomeH? A Ka3ajiocb... Ka3ajiocb eine B4epa. . . ^oporae M O H . . . Aoporne... xop-pomne... (II, 192, 1921) The f i n a l l i n e s of the pe-m sound like the last words of a dying man. The culmination of Pugachov's tragedy i s i n these moments when lie is wait ing to be given up to his enemies by his own associates. 55 Such an ending to the poem is quite j u s t i f i a b l e : for a strong and profound nature like Pugachov's, no torture Iv, the enemy can exceed the suffering caused by the disappearance of his army and by betrayal by his associates. This poem was written in the period when Esenin was preoccupied by the theme of the industrialization of Russia, a time between the creation of Sorokoust and Volchia G i b e l . He went back deep into history to find Pugachov, a revolutionary of the p a ^ w i t h whom the Communists would eagerly identify. The main characters of the poem personify those human qualities of the world "Tainstvennyi i drevnii" which the poet wanted to save. In elaborating to such an extent on the relation between the characters of the poem and Nature, he was trying to make his contemporaries aware of an important aspect of their heritage which was in danger of being destroyed. There are other poems of this period which could give a broader picture of Esenin's a r t i s t i c world. "0 Land, you are my Land"1 (Storona 1' ty moia storona) (1921) is a gloomy vision of the c i t y , i t s l i f e l e s s and monstrous forms -- the street lamps shaped like heads without mouths; skeleton-like buildings but also a church tower with bells to remind the poet of a water m i l l and sacks of flour as a consolation i n his nightmare -.-something familiar and more pleasant from the village world. Tan HeMHoro TeruieM n 6e30"ojit>HeH. r i o c M O T p H : uey& c n e j i e T O B A O M O B , C J I O B H O MC/IbHHK, HBGeT KOJIOKOJ&UH Meflitbie MeuiKH K O J I O K O J I O B . (II, 105, 1921) Not expecting any change or improvement in his own destiny, he reacts to city l i f e with a hollow feeling. The poet is deeply disappointed iu the 56 unhappiness which has settled on his existence. "flpyr Moil, pjpyr M O M , n p o 3 p e H i i n e B e s y u j 3aKpHBaeT o#Ha jiiwb c M e p x b " . (II, 105, 1921) The poem Yes! I Have Made up My Mind (Da! teper' resheno) (1922/23) belongs to the cycle "Moscow the Tavern City." It gives an insight into the poet's bohemian way of l i f e and shows the s p l i t between his early l i f e i . i t h . a l l i t s hopes and ideals and his association i n the new milieu with desperate people who li v e without ideals. He w i l l not be returning to village l i f e but nostalgically thinks o f i t . HH 3 K HM ROM. 6 e 3 M e i u i c c y r y j i H T C H , G T a p h i M n e c M O M A a B H O H O f l o x . Ha M O C K O B C K H X H 3 o r n y T H X yjwuax y k e p e x b , 3 H a x b , C V A H J I une 6ov. (II, 119, 1922/23) In the new environment, he seeks friendship and understanding: it ]Ryu M r a M B STO-VI JioroBe scyxKQM, Ho BCK) KOHb H a n p o j i e x , A O 3 a p n , H H M x a i o C X M X H n p o c x M T y x K a M H c 6aHAHTaMM a c a p i o c n M p x . (IT, 120, 1922/23) He finds only disappointment, i n common w.i i.li people from the undo rworld. "H xaKoii Me, KaK BH, n p i , : i a m H H , M H e x e r i e p b H e y i i x n Ha3aA". (II, 120, 1922/2".) liis disgust with the c i t y is powerfully expressed by the contrast, of "I.ogove Zhutkom" to the world of Nature. * L tai Les mine, I.. P. 57 He considers himself a lost man. His misfortune is that hr is n o t able to return to his former ideals or to the countryside. And his new friends have only grief to share with him. Footnotes r:senin's Poet i.c Response to the Industrialization of Russia 1. Nikolai Verzhbitskii, Vstrechi s Eseniiiym ( T b i l i s i : Zaria Vostoka, 1961), p. 48. 2. Slovo o polku Igoreve (Moskva: Izdatel'stvo Khudozhestvennaia literatura, 1967), p. 38. In modern Russian. 59 VIII Esenin a f t e r his Trip Abroad  The Poet of Soviet Re a l i t y Esenin i s an elusive poet. His daring imagination penetrates beyond the casual lineaments of l i f e and to the roots of human emotions. In some instances i t i s d i f f i c u l t to Fullv comprehend the meaning of a poem or group of poems without analyzing i t i n conjunction w i t h his other works. Such i s the case with poems i n which the poet expresses concern about the disappearance of the old world, notably''SorokoustVVolcflia gibel''"and others. After h i s t r i p abroad,! Esenin's conception of Russia changed; naturally t h i s was r e f l e c t e d i n his work. The i n d u s t r i a l achievements of the western nations made a profound impression on him. He tasted the f r u i t s of technology: flew i n an airplane, drove a car on German and Belgian highways, stayed i n f i r s t class hotels, crossed the A t l a n t i c i n luxurious ocean l i n e r s and saw the g l i t t e r of New York. A l l t h i s convinced him of the usefulness of i n d u s t r i a l i z a t i o n . BcnoMHHJi npo " A H M oxeHecTBa", npo Haury flepeBuro, rfle Hyrb JW He y Ka/K&oro My>KHKa B rode C I I H T TejiOK Ha cojicue vum C B H H B H C nopocsixaMH, B G I I O M H H J I noc/ie repMaHCKMX H dejibrnHCKHX uiocce nauiH Henpojia3Hhie Aoporn n cxa/i pyraTB Bcex neruiHiciiiHXCH aa "Pycb", Kai< 3a rpH3b H B I U H B O G T b . C oToro MOMeHTa a pa3 ^ n o 6 H J i HMiiyio P O C C H K ) . (IV, 159, 1923) This i s quite a strong reaction and represents a fundamental change i n his attitude towards the countryside. However, h i s statement i s general and to extract s p e c i f i c meaning from i t , one has to take into account what he said on other occasions. In his autobiography dated 24-4-1924, 60 there is the paragraph: Haiiie eABa ocTHBiuee KO' ; I -i-.be MHe He HpaBHXCH. M H S HpaBHTc;n i^ iiBHjn-i3au,Kfi. Ho H oneHb.He JUC6JUO A.yepwroi. AwepHKa 3To T O T GMpafl, FAe nponaAaex He T O J I L K O H C K V C C T B O , H O H BOoSine jryHuwe nopHBH Me^ioBeMecTBa. E C J I K ceroAHH AepicaT Kypc Ha AMepiiKy, T O H T O T O B T o r ^ a npeAnonec-Tb Hauie cepoe Hedo H nam neM3a>tc: H3da, neMJioro Bpoc/iy. B 3eMJiio, npnejio, H3 npnc/ia T O P H H T orpoMHan acepAB, B/iajieKe MaineT X B O G T O M Ha BeTpy T O U ^ H jiouiaAeHica. 3T O He T O , I I T O HedocKpedH, KOTopue aajm noKa M T O TOJibKO PoKpejyiepa H MaKKopMHKa, H O 3aTO 3TO T O caMoe, HTO pacTH^io y Hac ToJEToro, ^ ocToeBCKoro, ITyiUKHHa, JlepMOHTOBa H Ap. (V, 18, 1924) What he dislikes in America is the neglect of art and the lack of inner culture. His outcry against poverty i n Russia is now juxtaposed to teclinic.nl development as a great p o s s i b i l i t y for human progress. But lie sets one condition: i f Russia has to sacrifice the type of human understanding and relationship that gave rise to Leo Tolstoy, Fiodor Dostoyevskii, Pushkin, Lermontov, etc., then the poet would prefer the poor huts to remain as they are. Nevertheless, he was concerned about the poverty of the Russian people and saw i n industrialization a p o s s i b i l i t y to improve human conditions as well as a way to encourage rustic culture. Earlier^ Esenin had been opposed to the transformation of. Russia since he did not anticipate the p o s s i b i l i t y of establishing a new and better harmony between man and Nature or men and Man. The effect of the t r i p abroad was to alienate him from his "Tainstvcnnyi i drevnii" world. After seeing America Esenin became closer to Soviet r e a l i t y . There are a number of poems which directly reflect his new experience. He made an attempt t n fonn new poetic ideals: to see his "Rodi.na cherei: kamennoe i Stal'nue"; to find some common ground with the builders of Communism. He accepts the new epoch with Vladimir i l i c h Lenin inspiring and guiding the country. In the poem'(Stanzas"(Stan_sy) (1924), Esenin tried to project a new image of himself as having a serious role in Soviet society. Xony H OHTb neBiipM H rpaiCAairtiHOM) Hxor3 Kaw'OMy, KaK rop^oGTb i-i npuMep, BHJI HaCTOHUJHM, A He CBOflHHM CHHOM — B Be^MKHX uiTaTax CCCP. ( I l l , 44, 1924) He asks his readers not to be overconcerned about his drunken incidents and to pay more attention to his art: i n his eyes are "prozrenii divnykh svet." In Baku, Piotr Chagin showed him the workings of an o i l n finery and explained i t s meaning for the future of the country. To Esenin, this was almost like a revelation and he was quite enthusiastic. HecbTb Ha BOAe — KaK ofleHJio nepca, H Benep no He6y PaccHnaji 3Be3flHHH xyjib. Ho fl TOTOB nOKJIfleTbCH H H C T H M cepAuew, HTO cpoHapn npei<pacHeK n B e 3 A B CaKy. H nO^ IOH A.VU 06 HHA.yC TpHWHOH MOIHH, 51 cjamy r a / ioc Hej ioBeibHX CHJI. /JOBCflbHO C HaC HefiecHHX B c e x CBeTi-m, — HaM Ha 3 e i v u i e y c r p o H X b O T O npome. ( I l l , 46/7, 1924) Th-e lines surprised many readers and this is die farthest Esenin went in an unreserved acceptance o f industrialization and the Soviet government. 62 It appeared as i f he had f i n a l l y found the basis for his art. There are several other poems, based on his new ideal, such as f( Letter t o a Woman1'(Pis'mo k zhenshchine) (1924) where he speaks apologetically of h i s bohemian past which, at. one time, served as a refuge from the r e a l i t y t h a t lie did not have the capacity to grasp. He OHaJiH B H , IxO 55 B CnJIQUIHOM flHMV, B pa3Bopo4e'HHOM 6ypeM 6nxe C Toro H MynaKCi), M T O He noHMy — Kyaa HeceT nac poK C O O H T H H . 51 H3<3e,Kaji nafleHbH c K p y r a . Tenepb B C OBe T C K O H CTopoHe 51 CaMHH flpOCTHHH nOuVTHHK. ( I l l , 57, 1924) But time helped him to evolve and to understand contemporary Russia. The poem(CLetter to/ny Grandfather"(Pis'mo dedu) (1924) is particularly interesting for the possible par a l l e l with "Sorokoust',' a poem that has been discussed at length ear l i e r . In both cases lie describes a train, thus we can see concretely how his attitude changed in the course of time. While in Batum, the poet invites his grandfather t o come t o the warm south, although the distance is an obstacle which cannot be overcome other than by ti'ain. His grandfather does not have faith in such types o f transportation, so the poet tries t o convince him o f i t s advantage over the horse. H T O 3a JianaAb flapoBoo! Ee, HasepHoe, B TepMaHHH Kymum. HyryHi-flaM pox ee n p H B H K K orrao, M AHM HaA HeK, icik- rpnea — 'lepen, r y c x H neTOK. 63 TaKyro 6 rpnBy HauieMy KOHTO — TO CKOJIbKO 6 BHUIJIO Pa3Hux WBao'p H I I P T O K ! H 3Haio — BpeMH flaxe KaMeHb icpouiHT... H TH, CTapHK, KorAa-HHdyflb noHMeurb, H T O , flatce jxymuyio BrtpHTan B cain-t .flomaflb, B /ta^ ieiOTM KpaM JlHUTb K O C T H npHBe3enib.. . ( I l l , 82, 1924) At one time Esenin cast igated the t r a i n as a symbol of i n d u s t r i a l i z a t i o n ; i n th is case, three years l a t e r , he p o e t i c i z e s the same object . Such reversa ls are not rare i n h i s work and are one of the reasons for more serious study of h is a r t . He i s approaching h i s beloved countryside with a new conception of l i f e and a r t , r e j e c t i n g h i s former idea ls and negating the v i s i o n that had been the basis of h i s ear ly poetry. HeyroTHaa amaKaH jiyHHOc T B H TOCKa 6eCKOHeUHHX paBHHH, — BOT HTO BH&eJI H B pe3ByK> KHOCTb, H T O , JW5H, npoicMHaji He O A M H . Uo floporaM ycoxume Bepon H Tejie:masi necHH KOJiec... H H 3a H T O He xoTeji H Tenepb O H , H T O6 MHe cjjyuiaTb ee npHBejiocb. PaBHOAyineH H CTaji K jianyraM, H ona«HHH oroHb MHe He uvui, JX^e HOJioHb BeceHHioro Bbiory fl aa fieflHOCTb nojiei-i p&ojuoSvui. ( I l l , 1.56, 1925) Esenin i s f u l l y aware of poverty as a major cause of human suf fer ing in Russia. Ilei-c s o c i a l concern p r e v a i l s over the o l d poet ic notions such 64 as "mir tainstvennyi," "mir drevnii." Moreover, the poet is turning against that which has been, to a great extent, the basis of his poetry. .Nov; he wants to see an iron Russia. This new direction in his work brought him close to the practical revolutionaries of the time and led to the creation of several long semi-epic poems with themes taken from the October Revolution or the Civil War, such a/ The Song about the Grand March"(Pesn' o velikom pokhode) (1924),''Poem about 3 6 _ / ; ( P o e m a 36) (1924)/'Ballad about Twenty Six'^Ballada o dvadtsati shesti) (1924), etc. These poems have l i t t l e to do with Nature, and, for that reason, will not be analyzed in this paper. 65 Esenin at the Crossroad?between Old and New Russia In his l a s t two years Esenin v a c i l l a t e s between old and new poetic ideals, unable to reconcile them. Some of his poems r e f l e c t an attempt to f i n d an a r t i s t i c modus Vivendi between two extremes. Perhaps his own words would be the best i l l u s t r a t i o n : OcTajiCH E npcuwoM H O A H O H Horoio, C-TpeMHCb AoraaTb CTajibi-ryio paTb, C.KOJibMcy H naflaio flpyrow. ( I l l , 48, 1924) In the poem "Rus' b e s p r i i u t n a i a " he writes with scorn about those v.ho brag about the k i l l i n g of Red s o l d i e r s . But he i s sympathetic and f u l l y understands those who reject the new Russia and remain i n the past, condemned to a slow death. O H H HecacaToH pcwcbio na Kopmo OcTajmcb florHHBarb H ocHnaTbcn. ( I l l , 48, 1924) In another poem, ''Soviet Russia"(Rus' sovietskaia) (1924), we fi n d enthusiastic builders of the new Russia: C TOptl HAeT KpeCTbHHCKHH KOMCOMOJI, H noA rapMOHHKy, HanpuBaH pbHHO, rioicT arnTKii BeAHoro ^ eMbHHa, 2 BecejMM K P H K O M orjiauian ROJI. ( I ' l l , 23, 1924) Further,the poem Disappearing Russia (Rus' ukhodiashchaia) (1924) shows the poet's*unhappiness about his role i n the new Russia: KaKoii cicaHAaji! KAKOM dojibuioii CKai-vuvi! 51 OHV i'iLflCH B V3KOM ITpOMeaCVTKe . Beflh H MOr RSLTb He TO, HTO RRJl, 4TO MHe flasajiocb paa,n liryTKH. ( I l l , 52, 1924) lie is self-reproachful for not participating more actively in bringing the "great idea" to realization. Avoiding Soviet r e a l i t y l e f t him behind his age. But now love of Russia compels him to dwell more on the major issues his country is facing --an attitude frequently encountered in Russian literature. However, two lines from the previous poem show how deep is his grief at being neglected and ignored by his contemporaries: MOST. noa3HH 3 A e c b 6ojame He Hy.-KHa, Jl& H, noxcajyH, caM H Toace 3#ecb He iryaceH. (IN, 23, 1924) His feeling of f u t i l i t y comes from the realization that the world which he recreated i n his poetry i s rejected by the builders of the new Russian society. At one time he had hoped that the values of "Dereviannaia Rus"1 might be saved and would serve as a basis of the new society. In the poem About Homeless Russia (Rus' bespriiutnaia) (1924), seeking away out of his bitter loneliness, he.identifies with the sorrows of Oliver Twist. MHe BcnoMHwiacb rieHajibHaH HCTOpHH — HeTopHH o6 CrtMBepe TBHCTe.. ^ (III, 53, 1924) Further in the same poem he also identifies with the innocent sufferings of orphan children(who were quite numerous after the Revolution and the C i v i l Warjnnd with the wounded, at times broken, but great voices of 67 Russian poetry: Pushkin, Lermontov, Kol'tsov, Nekrasov. It is painful for F.scnin to see that his art has not been included in the buildim; of the nei-. Russia. Esenin believed in the great future of his country and quietly, uiv.rotestingly, prepared to suffer and wait for the new Russia to outgrow that, which he can't "Prigolubit' i potselovat'." But ho wanted the future Russia to use his poetry: Ho H T o r f l a , Korfla B O BceM njiaueTe npoMflex Bpatwa njieueu, H c H e 3 H e T Jiaxb H rpyc-Tb, — H Cyzry B o c n e B a T b BceM cymec-TBOM B nooTe •Wee Tyro n a c T b 3eujm C Ha3BaHbeM KpaTKHM "Pyeb". ( I l l , 24, 1924) Tliis emerges like a confession, gathered from several poems in which Esenin exposed his inner s e l f , the f u l l spectrum of different and, at times, contradictory emotions: grief, regret, self-reproach, hope, love and devotion to his country. However, in spite of his yearning for the reconciliation of different poetic notions, there persisted, deep within him and his art, the division between the new and the old Russia. Perhaps his most successful attempt towards reconciliation of these two opposing loyalties i s to be found in the work Anna Snegina, a lyric-epic poem in five varied cantos, of simple structure and harmony ol composition. The poem has two themes: revolution and love which have parallel development but subtle interconnection. In addition there is an unusual number of characters: the miller, Anna, Pron, the poet, and the cohman. The events take place in different settings: I'adovo, Kriusha, 68 Petersburg and London. The poet shows remarkable a r t i s t i c s k i l l in organising varied material -- including events of historic magnitude --yet always maintaining harmonic balance. Though Nature receives less emphasis than in previous works i t iSjnevertheless, an integral part o f the poem. "Cejio, 3HaHHT, Hauie — PaAOBO, ^sopoBj n o H H T a f t , Asa c Ta. TO M V , K T O ero orjmpjmaji, ripHHTC TBeHHH HaUlH MeCTa. BoraTH Mbi jiecoM H B O A bio, EcTb nacTCniua, ecTb nojin. H no BceMy yroAbio Pacca.<eHH Tonojia. ( I l l , 2 7 3 , 1 9 2 5 ) This calm, harmonious and, at the same time beautiful picture from the Russian countryside i s not accompanied by the usually abundant flow of emotions. Nevertheless, there is warmth and closeness between the poet and this setting where much of the poem i s developed. In the beginning, Esenin, giving a sketchy description of a village before the Revolution, depicts problems which are developed throughout the poem in the course of time and events. He outlines the social situation by comparing Radovo - - a prosperous- village, with Kriusha - - a poor one. But here Esenin emphasizes human nature as a source of con f l i c t : Ho JHQAH — Bee rpeuxHhie Ayuin. y MHornx rvia3a — H T O K J I H K H . C coceAHeK AepeBHH KpnyuiH Kocmn-icb Ha i-rac M V X H K H . . -(TIT, 274, 1925) The p o l i t i c a l insignificance of the village in Tsarist Russia is conveyed in two lines: 69 Pa3 — f v i a c T H , H a T O O H M BJiacra, A Mb! JIHUlb npOCTOH napoA. ( I l l , 274, 1925) liscnii: gives us these descriptions as something natural without indulging in social criticism. Later in the poem these elements arc shown to have repercussions in times o f war and revolution. In rejecting the w a r , he used the type o f argument frequently found in the language o f his contemporaries: BoKHa MHe B C W Aymy H3ie7ia. 3a neu-ro Hy.icoM HHTepec CTpejlSUL H B MHe (5JM3KOO V3JIO H rpyAbio Ha 6paTa j i ea . H noHHJi, HTO H — nrpyuiKa, B Tbmy >ice Kynuu Aa 3HaTb, H, TBepAo npocTt-fBUiHCb c n y u i K a M H , Peottui jrauib B C T i - i x a x BoeBaTb. ( I l l , 275, 1925) This narration is not very artistic; the most likely reason for such verbosity is that the poet never experienced war. The February Revolution is described more vividly: CBcoofla B3MeTHyjiacb HevicTOBO. H B posoBO-CMpaAHCM orHe TorAa HaA C T p a n o i o Ka^n-ripc TBOsaji KepeHCKHH- Ha CejioM KOHe. ( I l l , 275, 1925) The newly-created conditions are described very cleverly through the use of the image of fire whose pink flame and f o u l smell emphasize the unresolved situation. The -figure o f Kerenskii on the white horse points out the nominal change in Russian government. The poet spent the time between the two Revolutions in his native vii Inge. On his way from the deserted-^ army t u the countryside he was 70 cheered by the tr i p and the sight of the village under moonlight. /iopora A O B O ^ H O xopomatt r i p H H T H a H , XvOaAHaa 3BeHb. Jlyna 30/LOTOK) nopaii'io . OcHnajia Aa^ib Aepe-BOKb. ( I l l , 276, 1925) The landscapes seem to accommodate his inner delight. As he approaches the watermill -- a familiar place where his friend the miller lives -- Nature receives him in a friendly manner: H E O T H Ha Me^IbHHne... ELtbHHK OcunaH GBeMbMH CBeTJIHKOB. ( I l l , 277, 1925) U'atennills are usually situated in beautiful secluded areas and, for that reason, are often used as settings for fairy tales and romances. The harmony between the poet and the scene he describes flows into the meeting of the two friends: O T pa/locTH CTapnM MejibHHK He MCviceT CKa3aTb AByx C J I O B : "rojrydMiiK! J\s. T H J M ? Cepryxa! 03H6, HSJA I noAH, npoApor? Jla GTaBb T H C K o p e e , CTapyxa, Ha C T O / I caMOBap H nupor!" ( I l l , 277, 1925) This burst of joy and excitement, based on simple and profound human relations, plays a special role in the poem's composition; i t serves a s a contrast to hate, death, war and revolution and maintains the balance among the varied designs of the work. The poet, successively changing his focus between Nature and human relations, continues in the same moud: Rzry a p a 3 p o c u i M M C H ca^OM, JIHUP 3afleBaeT cupeHb TaK MVUl MOMM BCITHX!lyBUIHM B3rjIHflaM CocTapHBiiiHHca njie'reHb. CUT, 278, 1925) 11 is emotional response to the sight of the familiar place i s not as vivacious as that of the miller towards the poet at the moment of their mooting. But there is an essontiul similarity which can be simply described as joy of lifejwhile the l i l a c flower which brushes his face subtly suggests an intimacy between him and Nature and evokes memories of his early youth: • Koryra-TO y TOH BOH t c a j i H T K H MHe CBUIO iuecTHaa,naTb jier H fleByiUKa B 6ejio'& H a K H A K e CKa3ajia M H e jiacicoBO: "HeT!" Rajieime, imme 6mm. TOT o 6 p a 3 BO M H e He y r a e . . . M H B e e B 3TH vop}.i jsc6vum, Ho Majio JW6WM Hac . CHI, 278, 1925) Without bitterness for his u n f u l f i l l e d love, he reminisces on Anna and her impact on him during his teens. Nature is unveiled exclusively in relation to the miller, Anna and the poet who, together, form a solid unit in the l y r i c half of the poem. But the poet also plays the role in a-n epic design of the work and this simple device serves to connect the two parts. From the miller he goes to v i s i t a peasant gathering of the poor neighbouring village, Kriusha. There, from the Siberian convict, Pron, we learn that the peasant vision of the Revolution is essentially based on taking the land from the landowner The poet also reveals his hopes that ;he problems of Russian peasantry will be solved by Lenin: 72 "CKajKH. K T O Tanoe JleHHH?" 51 THXO OTBeTHJl: "OH — B H " . ( I l l , 284, 1925) On another occasion he goes with Pron to the landowner, Snegina, to present the peasants' demand for land distribution. Even though vaguely, this again shows the poet's sympathy for the revolutionary side. There is no elaboration of October events, only brief reactions of different characters. Pron's words are: " l a s r^dosti chut' ne pomer" while the miller's wife says: riponaji;.: Pacen, nponajia... riortidjia KopMHJiKua Pycb..." ( I l l , 280, 1925) The poet's own memory of the Revolution was also quite gloomy: He noMHto Torflauimoc C O6H T H H , He 3 Haw, H T O CRejiaji Upon 51 d H C T p o VMHSL/ICH B nirrep Pa3BeHTb TOCKV H C O H . CypoBHe, rpo3HHe T O A H ! Ho pa3Be Bcero onncaTb? ( I l l , 296, 1925) The tone of the epithets and the nature of the poet's mood reveal his l y r i c reaction to that period of Russian history, so f u l l of human suffering. It is interesting to note that the peasants are not idealized in the tiaditional way but, rather, are portrayed with a l l their faults, as manifested during that dramatic period when the o l d regime had been destroyed and the communists were creating a new government. 'Hie poet describes grotesque scenes i n which "chumazyi. zbrod" plays "korovam tambovskii I'okstrot" on seized pianos. 73 The peasants are also shown to lack p o l i t i c a l awareness at the crucial moment of history. They hate any government ami any tax, and are completely obsessed with accumulating rubles. The figure of Pron's brother Lahutia illustrates three negative characteristics: y PIpoHa 6bui o'paT J\n6y\:s\, My/KWK — HTO TBOH 1'IHTblll T.V3 : f i l l , .ZD2, -J02.rO ft is not accidental that Labutia is the f i r s t to go to throw the Snegins out from their estate. This is important because i t expresses one side of Fsenin's experience and his understanding of the Revolution. Two characters are distinct from the mass of peasants: the miller and the Siberian convict, Pron. The latt e r dreams of creating a commune in Kriusha. The poet has some respect for him, especially regarding his w i l l -power and a b i l i t y to act. The breath of the cold and harsh Siberian climate prevails in his character. He is portrayed objectively. For example, there is no warmth in.the line about his death: y3HaH, HTO B flBafluaTOM rOfle PaccTpejiHH Orjio6jwai Upon. (ITT, 297, 1925) 'Hie description of the miller, however, is f u l l e r . He is unveiled, on the one hand, in relation to his fellow man and, on the other, subtly reflected in the descriptions of Nature, ior example, the poet's f i r s t reaction after their meeting speaks of the harmony between his friend and Nature: "Hyl vecher zadumchivo chudnyi kak dnr/.h'ia ulybka v l i t s e . " Further, when the miller t e l l s about the generosity of Nature: 'CUM JieTOM rpn6oB H nro/i. y IiaC XOTb B MoCKBy 'Vld-'ilVblM. 74 H A H M H 3Aecb, fipaTeu, A O nepTa, CaMa Tan H O A nopox TI npeT. ( I l l , 277, 1925) there is a parallel to the same feature of his own character. The miller does not participate in the peasant struggle for land; moreover, when Anna and her mother are driven out of their house, lie takes them to his own home. It is a measure of Esenin's a r t i s t i c s k i l l that he depicts such a man as the intermediary between a landowner's daughter and a poet who appears to be on the muzhiks' side. Through a character who is neither a direct winner nor a loser in the Revolution, Esenin is able to convey human feelings of compassion and care for those who suffer. More-over, in the total picture of the Revolution the miller serves to balance the negative characters and those unnecessary human sufferings that accompany any revolution. The love theme is never developed and the contacts between Anna and the poet are dominated by memories of teenage love and arc told in fragments intermingled with war and revolution. During their f i r s t meeting the dialogue is a warm recollection of the past. However, they are unable to connect the past and the present which could have brought them together again. Cryiuajiacb, TVMaHi-yiacb A a j i i . . . . He 3 Haw, 3aneM H Tporaji nepnaTKH ee H UKUb. -JtyHa xoxoTajia, Kan K J I O V H . H B cepAue xoxb npe.KHero H B T , rio-CTapHHOMy 6bvi H no*ioH HanvjNBOM mecTnaAuaTH JIBT. ( I l l , 288, 1925) 75 The poet speaks of his former feelings in such a way that the same image conveys both phenomena of Nature and the stirrings of his emotions: "sgushchalas1 tumanilas1 dal'." The failure of his attempt to continue the romance is beautifully described with the moon treatcd^not in the usual way as an object of romantic inspiration, but humorously, as a clown. Here again there is a n object from the cosmos that lias the same feelings as the poet. It is concretely shown that rapport is not reestablished between these two people; the image of the gloves and the shawl further indicates the distance between them and their inability to approach each other. On the one hand, instead of responsiveness to the living and present Anna, the poet's soul is fi l l e d with memories of her. Subjective reasons are the main obstacle to the renewal of their love. While Anna., during their first meeting, notices a change in the poet: "Kakoi vy tepcr'ne takoi." The second meeting establishes an even wider gap between them. The death of Anna's husband is the reason for her insult to the poet: BU — ItCaJEKuM H HH3KHM TpVCHUliO-l. O H y M e p . . . A B H B O T 3 A e C b . . . " ( I l l , 29.1 , 1925) The third meeting at the miller's house ends in their parting forever. The Revolution leads Anna to England and Esenin goes to Petersburg. None of their meetings were initiated by the poet's inclinations but were, rather, casual. Except for the final letter, Anna's character remains sketchy and incomplete, overshadowed by the image of "devuslika v beloi nakidke." But. the artistic raison d'etre for Anna is quite justifiable sincey 76 throughout the poem she serves, indirectly, to revive and to perpetuate the concept of teenage love -- pure, innocent, dominated by the joy of l i f e , and entirely reflected in Nature. The landscapes and the miller's greeting appear both at the beginning of the poem and in the last chapter. This strengthens the unity of the work and also emphasizes the idea that beauty of Nature and of human relations remains unchanged and can outlive hate and hostility among people. In Esenin's earlier works dealing with the October Revolutionj natural phenomena were used in poetic figurations to unveil historic events. In another example, the events and characters of Pugachov's uprising were so involved with Nature that, at times, they seemed to be guided by i t . In Anna Snegina Nature is conveyed more subtly. Here, some individuals are close to i t while others are not and, consequently, descriptions of Nature do not accompany a l l human activities and deeds. However, Nature can be so close to man as to weep at his sorrow: Bee jiero npoBeji a B oxore. 3a(3i>u ee H M H H J M K . 06 nay MOK> Ha 6ojioTe Orui&Kaji pHflajUjiuHK-Ky^iHK. ( I l l , 291, 1925) The dominant feature of this poem is its profound humanism. The poet does not attempt any political or historical justification of characters or events but concentrates on the natural and human aspects of his narrative. His skilful interjection of lyric episodes is an affirmation of the persistence of ordinary human emotions despite any national upheaval. The kindhearted miller, the thrilling image of the "devushka v beloi nakidke" and the lilac 77 flowers preserving the dreams and innocent love o f sixteen year olds w i l l outlive the human misery caused either by individuals or societies. Anna's letter from London confirms this optimism. H Mac T O xcoicy Ha npuCTaHb H, T O JM Ha pa/jocTb, T O JIB B CTpax, rjisKcy cpeflb eyaoB Bee npHCTajibneM Ha KpacHuM c o B e x c K H H dviar. Tenepb T O M AociTnPvrH ctuibi. / i o p o r a M O H HGHa... Ho B H MHe no-npe^cneMy M M , . KaK poAHHa H KaK B e c H a " . ( I l l , 300, 1925) Without bitterness for her ruined home and the sufferings which have driven her to a foreign land, Anna treasures her beautiful memories of the past, even though she is f u l l y aware that events prohibit her return. Anna's ab i l i t y to love her country in spite of her personal grief and losses is an indication of her profound nature. The portrayal of this emigrant's patriotic feelings demonstrates Esenin's breadth of understanding of the human heart. This work is his most serious endeavour to penetrate beyond p o l i t i c a l and class issues and to deal with the depths of human problems. Esenin wrote Anna Snegina in 1925 while v i s i t i n g the Caucasus at the suggestion of friends concerned about his severe f i t s of depression. According to biographical sources he wrote the poem during one harmonious and extremely creative period of his l i f e . ^ It should be noted that the poem is somewhat autobiographical. The l y r i c hero can easily be identified with the poet himself and Anna is his neighbour landowner, Lidia Kashina. It i s , however, important to notice that , throughout the poem, Esenin though dealing with a period of several years remains dominated by the cast of his mind at the time of the poem's composition; for instance, the poem says that in 1917 lie read Anna i his Poems about Tavern Russia (Stikhi pro kabatskuiu Rus') which were, in fact, not written until 1922. The work, on the whole, leaves a strongimpression that, from beginning to end, Esenin maintains a certain distance from the characters events and even Nature. This implies objectivity, suggests that the meaning of the poem must be gathered from the entire composition and that one should analyse each aspect of i t in relation to the total work. 79 Footnotes Esenin after His Trip Abroad  The Poet of Soviet Reality 1. In the autumn of 1921 Esenin met Isadora Duncan, the world-famous dancer. On the second of May 1922 they became husband and wife. In Moscow Isadora had founded a dancing school but, since the Soviet government could not provide the money she decided to give a series of dance recitals in Europe and America to collect the necessary funds. On May 10 of the same year the Esenins flew from Moscow to Berlin. During the months spent abroad Esenin became more and more melancholy and the longing for his native land grew stronger in him. His health suffered from excessive drinking. Towards the end of their trip Esenin's mental condition was so bad that he had to be treated in one of the hospitals near Paris. Even though he left the hospital too soon, his health improved considerably. Both he and Isadora thought that his return to Russia might be better for him. They decided that he would leave immediately and Isadora would follow him a few weeks later. Esenin returned to Russia in the summer of 1923, but this ended his marriage to Isadora. 2. Demian Bednyi, Russian poet, contemporary of Esenin. 3. After the February Revolution many peasant soldiers lef t the army, afraid that the land would be divided while they were away. Esenin did what many others around him were doing. 4. a) Esenin's letter to G. A. Benislavskaia quoted by V. Belousov, Sergei Esenin (Moskva: Sovietskaia Rossia, 1970), p. 163: £ cKopo 3aBaj«> Bac MaTepnanoM. TaK MHoro H jrerKO nHtueTCH B 5 K H 3 H H o^eHb p e £ K O . 3TO n p o c T O noTOMy, *rro H o f l H H H cocpenoTO i^eH B ce6e. P O B O P H T , H o^eHb noxopouen. BepOHTHO, OTTOPO, M T O H ^iTO-TO yBHfleJT H VCTIOKOHJICH. . . b) Nikolai Verzhbitskii, Vstrechi s Eseninym (Tbil is i : Zaria Vostoka, 1961), p. 115: 3a nHTB MecsmeB n p e c b i B a H H H Ha KaBKa3e EceHHH HariHcan TpnrwaTB T P H npoH3BefleHKH: fleBHTt CQ J I H U H X H MajTHX nOSM, ,TTpa,nn,aTb TPH C T H X O T B O p e H H H H OflHy CTaTHO. HcKJioMHTenbHO ruroflOTBopiMH nepnofl! IX 80 Final Years: Recollections of the Russia of his F.arly Youth In the third group o f poems from the last two years o f his l i f e Esenin continues his main a r t i s t i c trend, which began before t h e Revolution, love of the Russian countryside: H Tenepb, Koiyra B O T H O B H M C B e x c - M H MoeM K O C H y / i a c b :*n3Hb cyAbOH, Bee p a B H o ocxajiCH H n o a x c - M 3OJIOXOM dpeBe'HHaToM H 3 6 H . ( I l l , 107, 1.925) liere we find the mature Esenin writing about Nature after having gained much experience in art as well as in his personal l i f e . In this chapter, the k e y issue is how Esenin, after leading a city l i f e for many years, identifies with the countryside. "Now I have to Keep my Sorrow" (Etoi grusti teper' ne rassypat') (1924) is typical of the way he now conceives of Nature. The poet complains about his incapacity to convey a happy notion o f l i f e . The abundance o f joyful emotions that, at one time, used to f i l l his heart is now reduced to the impotence o f not even being able to say a tender word without over-tones of bitterness. So he presents Russian landscapes in a new guise: H 3 H a K O M h i e B3opy npocTopH Y;K He T a K noA jr/HOH xopouin. EyepaKH... neHbKH... KOCoropH 06neHajavm pyccKyK) Jimpb. He3AopoBoe, xvuioe, m r a K o e , B O A H H H C T a n , c e p a n rviaAb. 3T O B e e M H e poAHoe H 6jw3Koe, O T Hero x a n jievKO 3apHAaTb. . n o K O C i f f i u i a n e H H a d e i i K a , Y\J[RH O B I J H , H BA3.^IH na s e x p y Maine x TOIUMM X B o e x o M ^iQUiaAeHKa, 3arviHAeBuiMCb B nejiacKOBtiM npyA. ( I l l , 1.9, 1924) 81 As we have seen previously, throughout his poetry Esenin usually associated his emotions and his inner world with the Russian countryside. In this example, he dewlls on "Bueraki"... "Pen'k.i"... "Kosogory"; "vodianistaia, seraia glad'," "plach o v t s i , " etc. This description of his "Rodina" i s quite different from the land that, at one time, the poet would not have exchanged even for Paradise. Here, in an attempt to explain why the people drink, cry, and hope for better days, Esenin despicts the poverty of the Russian countryside. He calls for more harmony in human existence, namely to avoid wasting oneself in one's early years in happy laughter without paying attention to existing sorrows: IIOTOMy HHKOMy He p a c c H n a T b 3 T V r p y c T b CMexoM paHHHX Jier. OTUBejn MQH uejiaH jrana, 0T3BeHeji c O J I O B B H H H M p a c c B e T . ( I l l , 20, 1924) The poet also describes his own position after the inspiration of the Russian countryside ceased to be a source of optimism in his creative l i f e . Now he can write only about sorrow. Perhaps Esenin outgrew his own ideal. At any rate, i t ceased to be an adequate source of inspiration but, rather, became emotionally exhausting. "The Golden Grove Said What i t had to Say" (Otgovorila roshcha zolotaia) (1924) further unveils the complexity of his a r t i s t i c c r i s i s . In describing the f a l l , he chooses those aspects which, at the same time, serve as a parallel to his own l i f e . The autumn leaves are compared to his sad poems. The cranes are flying quietly without their usual, sorrowful song. The poet stands in the middle of the barren fields remembering his joyous youthful days: 82 He :*cajib MHe Jiex, pacxpaHeHHhix HanpacHO, He a^jib Ayiiin cii[H3HeByro u B e x b . B cafly ropHT KOCTep PHCH H H KpacHoM, Ho HHKoro He MC&*cex O H c o r p e x b . ( I l l , 26, 1924) As i f summarizing h i s l i f e , the poet thinks without b i t t e r n e s s of his "wasted" years. The b e a u t i f u l f lame-like c o l o r of the " r i a b i n a ' s " (mountain ash) f a l l i n g leaves i s only an image of the f i r e which can n e i t h e r warm nor burn the branches and the poet compares his. a r t i s t i c c r e a t i v i t y to the behaviour of a tree i n autumn: "Kak derevo r o n i a i e t t i k h o l i s t ' i a / Tak i i a r o n i a i u grustnye s l o v a . " The intimate t i e s between Esenin and h i s work were always profound. It i s known that an a r t i s t u s u a l l y gains some sort of energy from h i s creations and t h i s , i n a way, helps to perpetuate further c r e a t i v i t y . But i n t h i s case, the sorrowful poems do not have more e f f e c t on Esenin than the f a l l i n g of t h e autumn leaves has on the trees. This i n d i c a t e s that the o l d subject matter of h i s poetry i s near exhaustion: H ecjrj-r BpeMH, BexpoM pa3Mexan, Crpeoex n x B c e x B O A H H HeHysHtm K O M . . . CKa*Hxe x a n . . . H X O poma 30Jioxan OxTOBOptWa M H J I H M H3HKOM. ( I l l , 27, 1924) But he concludes with a f e e l i n g o f f u l f i l m e n t , suggesting a p a r a l l e l between the " r i a b i n a ' s gathered leaves" and Ids own c o l l e c t e d poems. In s p i t e o f the contrary views expressed at times, Esenin s t i l l loved his native f i e l d s . However, that love i s now dominated by sad notes. In the poem, "The L i t t l e House with Blue Shutters" ( N i z k i i dom s goiubymi stavniami) (1924) he expressed a longing for Iris home and the country's ide: 83 flo cerc-AHH ewe MHe c H U T C H Haiue no^ie, jryra H Jiec, (III, 40, 1924) Then he adds to his old images a picture of dull and cloudy skies: ripHHaKpHTHe CepeHbKHM CHTUeM 3 T H X ceBepHbrx deAHtrx Hedec. ( I l l , 40, 1924) Thus he combines the happy memories of the countryside of his youthful days with rather gloomy and melancholy moods of his last period. The poet complains about loss of enthusiasm for l i f e . Yet, in spite of i t , he does not want to sever his ties with the world. The sorrowful kindness of his soul w i l l always give him the basis to comprehend l i f e and art: BoCXHUjaTbCH JOK fl He yMeio H nponacTb He xoTeji dbi B rvryuiH, Ho, H a s e p H O , H a B e K H HMeio HejKHOCTb rpycTHyio pyccKoM zryaiH. ( I l l , 40, 1924) He loves the cranes for their suffering: UOJSC6VUI H ceffHX :xypaBJieM C H X KyrviHKaHBeM B TOim-ie flajm, noTQMy H T O B npocTopax naaeH O H H C H T H H X xjiedoB He BHfla/iH. ( I l l , 40, 1924) Through their eyes he sees a different aspect of Nature: a beauty --"Tol 'ko v i d e l i berioz' da tsvet" 1; poverty -- "da rakitnik krivoi i bezlistyi"; then sufferings -- "da razboinye slushali svisty ot kotorykh legko umeret'." This note of compassion for his native countryside is frequently found in the poems of Esenin's last period: 84 KaK 6H H I-I xoTeji ue juoSuTh, Bee paBHO H e M o r y Hay4HTbCH, H n o f l 3 T H M A e i i t e B e H b K H M C H T u e M Thl M H J i a M H e , p O A H M f b l B H T b . ( I l l , 41, 1924) In some instances, Esenin tried to revive the old images and feelings w h i c h at one time used to enchant him. MejJKOJieche. C T e n t H RSLJM, C B e T j i y H H B O s e e K O H I I H . B O T o n n T b B A p y r 3 a p H A a j i n PaaJO-rBHHe d y d e H U H . H e n p u r j K W H a H flopora, /Ja J c o d H M a n H a B e K , Flo K O T O p O H ezjxvui M H o r o B C H K H H p y c c K u M HejioBew.. 3x B H , caHH.' H T O 3 a cai-m! 3B O H H Mep3jiHe O C H H . y M e H H O T e i l — K p e C T b H H H H , H y a H — K p e C T b H H C K H H C H H . ( I l l , 204, 1925) Suc'A, happy memories make him realize how unfortunate his l i f e as a poet has turned out to be: H a n J i e B a T b M H e H a H3 B e c T H O C T b H Ha T O , H T O H no3T. 3ry H a x j i e H B K y i o MecTHocrb He B H f l a v i H MHoro ^ i e T . ( I l l , 204, 1925) One year e a r l i e r ^ i n "Letter from my Mother" (Pis'mo ot materi) (1924), he expressed indirectly a similar idea, namely, that the simple peasant l i f e would have given him more happiness. M H e c T p a x ne H p a B H T C H , H T O I H n o s T . M TO T U CflpyKHJlcq C c ^ i a B o i o HJIOXOIO. 85 Topa3AO jry-aue 6 C MOJIHX JieT XoRivi T H B ncwe 3a coxoro. ( I l l , 65, 1924) One of the peculiarities of Esenin's art, particularly in the last two years, is the tendency to convey ambivalent notions of l i f e simultaneously in the same poem. In the f i r s t stanza of "The Blue Fog and tht> Snowy i'.Xpnnse" (Sinii tuman snegovoe razdol'e) (1925)^the last two lines are a typical example: CepAny npKHTHO c THXOIO dojibio HTO-IIMdyAb BCnOMHHTb H3 paHHHX JieT. ( I l l , 191, 1925) 'Hiis duality of his emotions prevails throughout the poem. The poet focuses attention on the crucial moment of his l i f e -- his leaving home. CHer y npHJibua nan necoK 3 H6V4HM. B O T npw TaKoii >xe jtyue 6e3 C J I O B , IIIanKy H3 K Q U I K H Ha .no6 naxjioo'yHHB, TaHHO noKHHyji H O T H H H K P O B . ( I l l , 191, 1925) This fragment from the past, his departure into the world, i s impregnated with images of Nature and memories of his home: innocent hopes and dreams about l i f e . After many years, he again returns: CHOBa BepHyjiCH a B Kpaii P O A H M H H . K T O MeHH ncwmv.r? K T O nooadbui? TpyCTHO CTOK) yl, KaK CTpaHHMK rOIIHMHH, — CTapHI-i X03HHH CB06H M30H. . Mo^na a KOMKaro HOByio wanKy, He no Ayme MHe coo'ojniii Mex. ( I l l , 191, 1925) Now a different person, "Strannik gonirnyi1,1 lie is aware of the impossibility of returning to his former way of l i f e . The countryside 86 d o e s not civo him the same joy and optimism as before and he cannot become accustomed to c i t y l i f e . The idea of "utrachennaia runost'," Esenin's frequent theme, also dominates this poem. Mis "Tikhaia bol'" reminds him of his grandparents and the cemetery which seems to him the only place of reconciliation. His premonition of approaching death came true three months later: 3TV nady na Kpbuibue c codaKoM CflOBHO H BUKy B 1'IOCJieAHMH pa3. ( T i l , 192, 1925) Obviously, the poet was experiencing a deep emotional c r i s i s which, nevertheless, did not diminish his a r t i s t i c a b i l i t i e s ; indeed, i t imparted a dramatic element to his poetry. The poem ./'Blue May" (Sini i mai) (1925) exemplifies one of Esenin's tendencies, in the last year of his l i f e , to recreate the images typical of his early youth: CH H HM MaM. 3apeBatf TenviHHb. He np03BHKI-ieT KOJIbUO y KaJMTKH. JInnKHM 3anaxoM Beer nojibiHb. CnHT nepeiwyxa B dejioM Hani-yuoe. Sounds, smells and colors appear again in the same form as in his early works. B flepeBHHHHe KpBUIhH OKHa BMecre c paMaMH B TOHKHe uiTopn BfDKeT B3dajMOUHaH jr/m Ha nojry KpyKeBHHe yoophi. A modest way of l i f e is conveyed with acute a r t i s t i c awareness, Hauxa ropHrcua X O T L H Majia, Ho H U Gxa. 51 c coooii ira /j,ocyre... B O T O T Benep B C H >KM3HL MHe MTuia. KaK ripi-wriiaH naM>TTb o /ipyre. 87 Cafl ncuiHiieT, Kan nenHbiH noicap, H jjyHa, Hanpfirayi Bee CIVM, Xonex Tai-.:, HTOC5H KaaaHfi Apccicaji O T ii^MHiiipro cjioBa " M H J I U H " . ( I l l , 154, 1925) The content of these stanzas differs l i t t l e from his other poems written around the year 1916. However, two other stanzas unveil his d i f f i c u l t position us an a r t i s t . He does not have wishes that would exceed what l i f e at one time offered him: TOHbKO a B 3TV UBeTb, B OTV IViaflb, Ilofl TajibHHKy Bece^ioro Man, HHMero He Mory naacejiaTb, Bee, KaK ecTb, de3 KOHua npHHHMan. ( I l l , 155, 1925) Then he turns to r e a l i t y and^with a tragic overtone^ concludes: ripHHHMaiO, — npHflH H HBHCb, Bee HBHCb, B neu e c T b dojib H OTpafla... Mnp Tede, onuyMeBuiaH :K H 3 H B . Mwp Tede, rojiydan npoxjiafla. ( I l l , 155, 1925) The peculiarity of Esenin's position derives from the fact that city l i f e and the Revolution l e f t an indelible mark on him. The new ideal, which has been discussed earlier in this paper, dominated his art only sporadically. On the other hand, due to change:, which occurred after 1917 he was alienated from the l i f e of the Russian countryside; also, the poet had acquired a new attitude to l i f e . Thus, going back to the old themes which, by the way, he never abandoned, meant a retreat into reminiscences of his youth. The internal division of Esenin was manifested by two opposite worlds -- the old and the new. Giving his poetic talent to his past, that is to say to memories of his youth, created an emotional vacuum for the other poetic s e l f whose ideal of a new Russia was re la ted to the concrete r e a l i t y of his t ime. In analyzing his a r t , i t seems essent ia l to perceive these d i f f e r e n t ideals as i f they had been created by two p e r s o n a l i t i e s . With pi-emonitions of approaching death and i n a farewel l mood Esenin wrote several l e t t e r - l i k e poems to members o f his f a m i l y . And w i t h s i m i l a r warmth and intimacy i n "We are Slipping Away" (My teper ' ukhcdim po nemnogu) (1924), he addressed the Russian landscape: Mnjffiie. 6epe30BHe Hamji! Thi, 3euml H B H , paBHHH necKn! riepeA 3 T H M COHMOM yXOAHUJKX H He B CHJiax C K P H T B Moen T O C K H . ( I l l , 11, 1924) In f ac t , he was saying farewel l to d i f f e r e n t objects of Nature. Mnp O G H H 3 M , HTO, paCKHHyB BeTBH, 3arjiHflejracb B po30Byio B O A B ! ( I l l , 11, 1924) His leave - taking was without b i t terness or regret; his memory went over d i f f e r e n t items which, at one time, had made his l i f e so happy: CnacT J M B TeM, H T O uejioBaji H :KeHmHH, MOJI LiBerH, BajiH^iCH Ha TpaBe H 3Bepbe, naK dpaTbeB Haumx ueimimx., HHKorAa He 6mi no rojioBe. ( I l l , 12, 1924) He i s f u l l y aware that , once he departs from t h i s l i f e , everything w i l l be l e f t behind him. 3Haio s, HTO B Ton CTpaHe He dyAeT *3THX HKB, 3./iaTHlIIMXCH BO MTJie. O T T O P O H Aoporn MHe J H O A H , H T O : K H B V T co MHOIO na 3evuie. (HI, 12, 1924) 89 Poets, in general, occasionally write palinodes, i i . the case of Lisenin, i t is more than that. Analysing the poetry of his last two years in three separate groups is an attempt to find a suitable approach to explain the vacillation between two artistic credos. Such an analysis may also enhance the apprec/.ation of his poetry and the peculiarity of his individuality. The fi r s t signs of an internal polarization appeared much earlier. His development before the year 191.7 has a unity and steadiness . but the Revolution opened a new chapter in his art and l i f e . During the first two years, many of his poems were dedicated to the revolutionary cause. In spite of their vagueness of revolutionary content, here and there one can note his old ideal of the "peasant paradise" sporadically appearing in new disguise. In the year 1920, he saw the threat of industrialization to the Russian countryside and responded critically to i t . Temporarily, he abandoned revolutionary themes. The bohemian l i f e which he was leading has its reflection in the cycle Moscow the Tavern City in which he completely ignored the crucial problems of the Revolution. The trip abroad in the years .1922/23 brought him closer to Soviet reality and he even tried to become a genuine revolutionary poet of his new country. This period, which lasted t i l l the end of his l i f e , is the most complex one. In earlier times i t was possible to follow his development and changes chronologically. During the last two years of his l i f e , the poet vacillates between the two artistic credos although he made many attempts in his work towards internal reconciliation. All of this has been discussed at length. It is probably after his trip that lie became convinced that, as a poet profoundly 90 attached to Russia in his l i f e style as well as in his art, there was nothing abroad for him. Thus, divided in himself between the o l d and the new, he faced his country. The last year of Esenin's l i f e was very productive; nevertheless, comparatively l i t t l e was produced with the Revolution as an inspiring force. Besides the poems of outstanding value, there are also works in which he became repetitious, especially in his sorrowful longing for the memories of his youth. It seems that, at the end of his l i f e , there was nothing left from t h e o ld Russia and there was only an artistic vacuum in the poet. The ideal of Soviet Russia was not strong enough in him to absorb h i s personality fully in a new search f o r l i f e and art. Perhaps the crisis which Leo Tolstoy wont through after finishing l\ar and Peace might throw some light on Esenin's case although the endings o f the lives of the two men are entirely different. Tolstoy overcame his crisis aiuL-for that reason, his problem is better known. The hollowness which this great man experienced lasted for many years and came after a long period of creative work which seems to have exhausted much of his artistic vitality. This is extensively described in his confession: Ec/m 6u npnuua BOJiuefiHHua H npeflJict-Kmia MHe wcnojiHHTB M O H vKejianHH, H 6 H He 3Haji, H T O CKa3aTb. E C J I M e c x b y MBHH He .JCOJ:: n / i H , HO npHBHHKK J K e j I H H H H npeucHKX, B FlbHHLie MMHyTH, T O H B Tpe3Bhie MHHyTH 3HaK>, HTO 3TO — OOMaH, MTO KeHerO •AtejELTb. Raxe y3HaTb HCTHHy H He Mor i josjiaxb, noxoMy H T O H florazrHBa/iCH, B neM OHa cocTOHJia . HcTKHa 6bum T O , 4 T O >KH3Hb ecTb fieccMbicJMia. 51 KaK OyATO irfH.'i-acmi, meji-uieji H ripnuieji K riponacxn H HCHo'yBi'Wav'i, H T O Bnepe/tn HWHero H B T , npoivie u o r HO e J I H. H ocTai-iOBHTbCH HeJib3H, H i-iaaaA ne j ib3H, H 3aicpb[Tb r v i a a a i re j iban, H T O O ' H He Bi-warb, 4T O HHMero neT Bnepef lH, Kpowe oowaHa : , K M 3 K H H C4acrbH Vi HacTonim-ix c x p a a a i i M M H H a c T o r n i f p i i cwepTH — ncwmoro ,yn s 14TCwceHwn. (At; that stage Tolstoi was close to death.) Ku3Hb MHe onocThuejia — icaicaH-To uewpfiOixojiimRsi C K J i a BJieKJia M e H H K Tcwy, HTOCU J icaK-Hndynb H3daBHTbCH O T H e e . He./Db3H CKa3aTb, HTO6 H xoTe.'i .yCJiiTb cedn. Ctuia, K O T o p a n a/ieioia M e H H n p o ^ b orp J K H3H H , 6i..uia cmibHee, nojmee, odiuee x o T e H b H . 3 T O 6UJI& cmia, no/todnaH npe>KHeMy CTpeMjieiniio' K , ;CH3HH, TOJIbKO B O d p a T H O M OTHCUISHUH. 51 B C 6 M H CHJiaMH CTpeMHJICH npOHb O T 3CH3HH. MH C J I L o c a M o y d H i i c T D e npnuuia M H e Tan ace e c T e c T B e H H O , KaK n p e J i w e n p H X O f l H J i H M H C J I H od yjiyniiiemm M<:H3HH. M H C S B 3Ta dbuia TaK co6jia3HHTejibHa, >ITO H flOJHceH dmi y n o T p e d j i H T b npoTHB cedn X H T P O C T H , mo6u ne i ipuBecTH ee CTTMIIIKOM. nocneuiHO B HCnOJIHeHHe. 51 He XOTeJI T O p O U H T b C H TCJDbKO H O T O M y , HTO xomnbcb y n o T p e d H T b s e e yavumii, HTO6U p . ' i c n y x a t b c n ! E O J M H O p a o r t y T t u o c t . , T O B o e r A a yoneio, r o a o p m i H oade, H B O I ' TorAa H , cH9.C T J I H B H H H e j i O B e K , B H H e c M3 C B o e M KOM-iaTH unrypoK, ryj;e H K a a c f l H H B e n e p d H B a j i O A H H , paaAesaHCb, H T O . ' ! : He H O B e c n T b C H Ha n e p e K J i a A H H e M e a c f l y l U K a n a M H , H n e p e c T a J i x o f l H T b c p y i c b e M H a o x o T y , HTO6B H e co6jia3HHTbCH CJLUUKOM. jien-cHM c n o c o d O M H 3 d a B J i e H H H cedn O T >KH3HH. 51 caM H e 3Haji, n e r o H x o n y : H d O H J I C H JKK3HH, C T p e M H J I G H U p O'Ib O T H e e H , MeJICfly T e M , n e r o - T O ewe H a A e H J i G H O T Hee. To that can be added an incident described in Henry Troyat's Biography: "What's wrong, Lyovochka?" "Nothing," he answered. "I don't have any matches. I got lost in the house." Sonya was so startled that she had a coughing f i t and stood there, gasping and wheezing. Afterward, her husband explained that when he came out of his study to go to his bedroom, he suddenly could not remember where he was. What were those walls? Where did those steps lead? Panic gripped him to the roots of his hair.2 During the interim period, among other a c t i v i t i e s which did not have much to do with literature, Tolstoi created Anna Knrenina which belongs to the same l i t e r a r y trend as War and Peace. However, there i s a different a r t i s t i c mood bu i l t around the figure of Levin. Unlike Tolstoi, Esenin spoke and w r o t e l i t t l e about h is c r i s i s . It was his poetry that received his confidences. These have a l r e a d y received general attention in this paper but, in order to present a more concrete v i e w , we should focus again on three of h i s v e r s e s , taken from v a r i e d poems w h i c h siIOW different stages of his suicidal mood; hollowness, premonition of death and requiem. 92 ripeflpaccBeTHoe. Ci-inee. Pai-mee H jieTaKiuHX 3Be3A C«aroAaTb. 3araAaTb 6u Kanoe >KejLairne, Ra He 3 Haw, nero ncwcejiaTb. ( I l l , 177, 1925) 51 3HaiO, 3HaiO. CKopo, CKOpO HH no MoeM, H M i b e f i BHHe ITOA HVI3KHM TpaypHHM 3a<5opOM JleacaTb npnAeTCH Tan ace MHe. ( I l l , 173, 1925) rioTOMy xopauaa necHH y cojioByuiKH, FlecHH naHKXKAHaH no MoeM.ro^ioByuiKe l l B e j i a — 3a<3yt3e*HHaH, Oi>uia — HosceBaH, A Tenepb BApyr C B e c i v i a c b , C H O B ' H O Kewmasi. ( I l l , 141, 1925) His creative forces led him to the abyss and then he expressed his inward tragedy i n an art form. In addition Vladimir Shvaitser, i n the a r t i c l e "Pesnia" gives an interesting description of the poet's internal division. /la, 6BUIO B T O BpeMH ABa EceHHHa. O A H H — ne'f3jrbHbiM, HaA^iOMJieHHHM, O A H H O K H H, ApyroM — 06paupH H H H K J D C A H M , BpeMeHH, ACH3HH.4 During Tolstoy's c r i t i c a l time, he was completely preoccupied by his c r i s i s and was constantly searching for a new purpose in l i f e and art. He became involved with diverse subjects such as philosophy, pedagogy and classical Greek. Esenin, however, worked at his art to the v e r y end of his l i f e . But he made several attempts to change his poetic world -- the poems o f the last two years about Soviet Russia and "Persian melodies." But lie a l w a y s r e t u r n e d to his r i l d themes, especially to that of parting v.: .eh, in t h e l a s t p e r i o d , d e v e l o p e d i n t o the theme of f a r e w e l l to y o u t h and l i f e . In some he d w e l t on one of t h e most t r a g i c i d e a s o f l i f e , namely, s u i c i d e . 93 His pride seems to have been an obstacle in confiding his internal struggle directly to anyone. He resented being pitied. V.I. E r l i k h , J in his book Provo na pesn', described one of Esenin's rare moments of confessing his despair. nnTbiM nac yrpa. M H jiexHM na neon© it C M O T P H M B Hedo. GO B C G M He MocnoBcicari Ti-mraa. OH noBopaHHsaeTCH K O M H S H xoneT roBopHTb, H O y Hero ApcvicaT rydbi H Bbrpaxceime KaKoro-TO HeodbwaMHO HHCToro, noHTH fleTCKoro ropn noHBJiHeTCH Ha jump. — CjryuiaM... 51 — KomeKffl nejioseK... H oneub 6ojieu... npe>Kfle Bcero — Majio/tyuiHeM... 51 roBOpio O T O Tede, MajibHHKy... npe:>K&e H He c i c a 3 a j i 6u O T O P O H He.ro-BeKy BflBoe c-Tapue MeHH. 51 OHem> H e c H a c T J i H B . Y ueua. HeT HHnero B MCH3HH. Bee praMenwio MHe. IIoHHMaeiirb'? Bee! Ho flejio He B O T O M. .. C^jyiuaM... HnKor-fla He >KajieH MeHfl! HHKorfla He >icajieH MeHH, Kano! E C J M n Korfla-HHdyztb 3aMeny... 51 ydbio TeOH.' lloHMMaenib? OH depeT nannpocKy H, He T V I H A H Ha MeHH, 3aicypHBaeT. Esenin did not overcome his c r i s i s , while Tolstoi^after many years, built a new philosophy and new approach to art and his l i f e became f u l l and creative. In his second period, he rejected his earlier l i t e r a r y work i:o which^at one time^he had devoted himself with so much integrity and passion. Lev Shestov puts the peculiarity of the great writer's position in philosophical perspective: . . . i f Tolstoy thirty years ago had been .hown his own most recent works, he would have repudiated them, as he now repudiates War and Peace, though then as today he has wanted one thing only - - t o regulate his l i f e by the "good." A repudiation against another repudiation. Which shall we accept? And, most important of a l l , would he have disavowed his What is A r t ? 7 Unfortunately, Esenin committed suicide at an early age and we cannot see the whole process of rebirth of a "new man" as in the case of 9 4 Tolstoy. It seems that similar phenomena existed in both men,namely, the potential for developing two different personalities, two different a r t i s t s . The transition from one a r t i s t i c credo to another is followed by a deep c r i s i s which often has tragic consequences, as in the case of Esenin. The manner in which Nikolai Gogol ended his l i f e also i l l u s t r a t e s , perhaps, though in a more obscure way, the existence of a similar problem to that of Tolstoy- and Esenin. The duality in the works of Tolstoy and Esenin should not be attributed so much to external causes <ls to the very nature of these individuals, to their a b i l i t y to respond to l i f e in two different ways. Itwould be d i f f i c u l t to draw detailed parallels between the two artists since Tolstoy was a prose writer and, in his latter period, a great deal of his work was of a philosophical nature. Esenin, however, never abandoned his old a r t i s t i c credo formed before the Revolution. Naturally, in the course of time, this credo underwent some changes, but the new approach to art and l i f e inspired by Soviet Russia also existed and appeared in his poetry subsequently to the old one. The comparison of Esenin to Tolstoy does not have such an ambitious goal as to try to resolve what was controversial in Esenin's art or the question of his personality which played a significant role in the complexity of his poetry and appears to be as valid an explanation as "external influences" such as revolutionary changes of Russia which, so far, have been used almost exclusively in analyzing him as man and a r t i s t . A parallel study of the circumstances of his l i f e and the composition of his personality, could give more objective results. If nothing else, this brief p a r a l l e l between the two men important a role his a r t i s t i c work plays in the l i f e of 96 Footnotes Final Years: Recollections of the Russia of his Early Youth 1. L.N. Tolstoi, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii (Moskva: Gosizdat. khudozhestvennaia literatura, 1957), torn 23, p. 10. Brackets mine, L.P. 2. Henri l'roiat, Tolstoi (New York: Doubleday, 1967), p. 352. 3. Vladimir Zakharovich Shveitser - - Soviet writer, contemporary of Esenin. 4. L. Prokushev, Vospominaniia o Sergeie Esenine (Moskva, 1965), p. 409. 5. Vol ' f Iosifovich Erlikh (1902-1944) - - poet. 6. L. Prokushev, Vospominaniia o Sergeie Esenine (Moskva, 1965), p. 459. 7. L. Shestov, Dostoevskii, Tolstoi and Nietzsche (Ohio University Press, 1969), p. 61. X 97 Esenin's Craftsmanship and Lexicology One of the key problems in studying Esenin the poet is undoubtedly that of his a r t i s t i c expression. Such major topics as, for instance, his pantheism or his being a peasant poet cannot be comprehended without an understanding of tho source and significance of his a r t i s t r y . We have already seen that the Russian countryside l e f t an indelible mark on his work. Here we shall reexamine these effects but through the light of his imagination. To the end of his l i f e , Esenin's poetic expression remains deeply rooted in folklore. While developing his poetic se n s i b i l i t y , he was greatly influenced by Russian culture as a whole and, in particular, by Pushkin, Andrei Belyi, Alexander Blok, and Kliuev as well as the other peasant poets, old legends and folk art. His career can be divided into different periods according to outside influences and his own evolution. Nevertheless, there was only one poetic system that he developed continuously. In the preface to the collected poems of the year 1924, the poet revealed the fundamental issues of his art ; namely i t s origin and formation. B CTHXaX MOHX HHTaTejIh ROJIKBR rViaBHblM 06pa30M odpamaxb BHHMaHHe Ha jmpuHec Koe HVBC TBOBaraie H Ty 05pa3H0CTb, KOTOpafl yKR3aJia nVTH MHOrHM H MHOrHM' UOJIORWA noaTaM H dejuieTpucTaw. He H B w r y M a j i STOT o6pa3, OH 6UJI a ecTb ocHOBa pyccKoro Ayxa H rvia3a, HO H nepsHH pa3Bmi ero H nojiaxvui OCHOBHHM KaMHeM B CBOHX cxnxax. O H ;KHBeT BO MHe opraHKHeCKH Tan vs.e, nan MOH CTpacTH H HyBCTBa. 9TO MOH OCOdeHHOCTb, H 3T0My y M e H H MOKHO yMHTbCH T M K -fee, nan H Mory yMHTbCH HeMy-HHdyflb ApyroMy y flpyrnx. (IV, 226, 1924) From the folklore he took not only images but similes, epithets and other tropes and incorporated them in the basic structure of his poetry, always 98 display ing a great deal of c r e a t i v i t y . The e a r l y poems were created i n simple form with complete domination of simple metaphors and s i m i l e s . Ha d y r p e depesa-CBeHKa B jrymmx nepbnx cepedpa. (I, 73, 1911) TeHbKaeT CHHuua M e j s ^ecHbix KyapeM, TeMHbM ejsm C H H T G H T O M O H KOcapeK. (I, 130, 1914) H nycKaK co Q B O H S M H rutaviyT rvjyxapti, EcTb TOCKa Becejiaa B ajiocTHX aapn. (I, 68, 1910) Tyna Kpy.iceBo B poiye C B H 3 a j i a , 3 a K y p i t 7 i c H naxynm. T y M a H . • * (I, 167, 1915) 3aKOJWOBaH I.':-?BHAHMKOH, / i p e M J B T J i e c nofl C K a 3 K y C H a . (I, 84, 1914) KOJIOKDJI flpeMBaumn PasdyflHJi nojia, yjmdjry/iacb co^Hiry COHHaH 3 6 M J W . (I, H 6 , 1914) y^bidHyjiHCb eoHHbie depe3KH, PacTpenajM mejiKOBHe K O C H . IIIejiecTflT 3ejieHHe cepe,.CKn, H ropHT cepedpHHhie pocH. (I, 89, 1914) KjieHeHoneK Ma-/;eHbKnM MaTKe 3e ^ i e H o e B H M H coceT. (I, 64, 1910) 99 His intellectual appreciation of the world i s suffused with deep-felt emotion so that i n deriving formal poetic expression of the world he sees the images, although sharply focussed and concrete, are transformed by the beauty of his poetic expression. Thus assisted by his superb imagination, he could harmonize the most distant and even opposite elements of the universe. In his poetic interpretation the earth i s the center of the universe and unites a l l that has l i f e and beauty. Esenin's keen perception of l i f e and Nature ensures that his art never loses touch with r e a l i t y . A characteristic example i s the poem "The Cow" (Korova): /JpHXJiaH, BbTiaJIH 3V6bI, C B H T O K rojcpB Ha porax. Bun ee BbiroHmnK rpySbift Ha neperoHHbix nonnx. (I, 172, 1915) In the f i r s t stanza, well chosen details present a r e a l i s t i c basis for further development of the poem. Cepnue HenacKOBO K myMy, Mbnw CKpe6yT B yrojTKe. .DyMaeT rpycTHyfO nyMy 0 SenoHoroM TenKe. (I, 172, 1915) For the poet, Nature i s endowed with human faculties of feeling, smiling, whispering, dozing, dancing and even thijiking. In this particular case, the bereaved mother cow sadly watches the skin of her white-legged calf flapping i n the wind. One of the subtleties of the poem i s that the actual act of k i l l i n g i s not described, only i t s results and effects. He P&JTH MaTepn CbiHa, nepBan panpcTB He BnpoK. H Ha Kojry non; O C H H O H Iikypy Tpenan BeTepoK. (I, 172, 1915) 100 And the cow i? left to wait for the same destiny that befell her calf. The entire poem is written without compound metaphoric expressions, almost in elemental language and yet, lyrically, this is one of Esenin's most powerful verses. His capacity to select details that would best suit his poetic ideas contributes a great deal to his artistic s k i l l . There are other poems written at that time with the same simplicity, such as: " V khate," "Pastukh," "Pesn' o sobake," "Lisitsa," etc. Later, when Esenin developed M s more complex artistic devices fully, simplicity s t i l l remained a distinct mark of his poetry. One of the basic principles of Esenin's art is that of placing the harmony and beauty of Nature, as well as the innate feelings of animals, in the foreground. Elsewhere, we find the oppressors: "Vygonshchik grubyi," "Khoziain khmuryi," who are, for the greatest part, indirectly involved through the sufferings usually of baby animals such as "shcheniata," "telok zherebionok" and so on. This gives his poems greater emotional impact. His frequent use of diminutives as, for example "beriozka," "snezhok," "solnyshko" gives his descriptions of Nature an emotional aspect. A good deal of his creativity was concentrated on the formation aii ' development of the metaphor as his main form of poetic expression. Transplantation of expressions from one field of experience in order to say something in another field had been used extensively in Russian folklore. Even riddles are related to this metaphoric method, in so far as they are based on the likeness which often exists between things that appear unlike. Besides adopting the same artistic method, Esenin also included elements of folk imagery and wisdom in developing his own 101 poetry. As an i l l u s t r a t i o n we can take the moon and sun, objects frequently referred to in folk literature to convey different shades of meaning reflected in the structure of the work. In Russian riddles the moon can have such figurative meanings as: "Vsadnik," "pastusheskii rozhok," "lad'ia," "iagnionok," "versha," "kon'," "pastukh." The poet goes further from these postulates: i f the moon is a "vsadnik" then i t can "roniat' povodia" (referring to moonbeams). In another context i t becomes "vsadnik unylyi." As a "pastusheskii rozhok," the moon can create music: "Pliashet sumrak v galochei trevoge, sognuv lunu v pastusheskii rozhok." .The sun perceived as a "vedro" can be f i l l e d with azure ("lazur"'). During the Revolution the sun becomes a red c a l f and the poet creates the metaphor: "Nebo lizhet krasnogo telka." Thus Esenin derives metaphors from postulates usually taken from or based on folk art. During his creative l i f e he went far beyond the limits of rustic culture. Nevertheless, throughout his career he remained a peasant poet i n spite of his broad conception of l i f e and Nature, the vastness of his images and the universal appeal of hisJlyricism. When Esenin took part i n the imagist movement i t was primarily an attempt to gain a r t i s t i c independence from the rustic culture, rather than a poetic experiment and search for a new form. Occasionally, between 1919-1922, he introduced i n his verses metaphors that, neither i n their components nor in their basis, derived from Russian tradition. A good example i s the poem "Mare Ships" (Kobily korabli) (1919) which is based on the poet's personal experience: once, i n the winter of 1919, he saw a dead horse on a Moscow street and crows feeding from i t s carcass. This small fragment from the countless horrors of the C i v i l War inspired t lie poet to write this 102 m. rbid and gloomy poem. E C J I H B O J I K Ha 3Be3fly 3aBbm, 3HaiinT, Hedo Tyn&un i-rarjioflaHo. PBaHbie JICHBOTH KOdHJI, HepHHe napyca BopoHOB. He npocyHeT worrell Jia3ypb H3 nyproBoro Kauu>i-CMpaa;a; OdjBTaeT nofl pucaHbe dypb HepenoB 3^ T O X B O H H H H* cafl. CJItJUIHTe Jib? CjIHUttlTe 3B0HKUH C T V K ? 3 T O rpadjm sapn no nyuiaM. BecjjaiviH OTpyo'jieHHHX pyn B H rpedexec-b B CTpmry rpnflyupro. (II, 84, 1919) His poetic figurations are rootless: "Nebo tuchami izglodano," "Chornye parusa voronov," "V/Mlami otrublennyk/»ruk.u The words used in forming these metaphors did not have any connotations or symbolism beyond their usual meaning. This method of forming images led to mediocre results and the failure of his imagist work. Esenin developed his similes i n much the same fashion as he did metaphors, namely by deriving them from folk images and symbols. One of the major aspects of his creativity i s manifested in the use of already existing units of a r t i s t i c figuration i n building new and often vast designs of l i f e and Nature. Ty^H — Kan o3epa, MecHu — phLiiHH rycb. rijwaieT nepefl BSopoM jjyiic. TBeHHan Pycb. (I, 273, 1917) In spite of the recklessness of his imagination, the tendency always to have concrete details in his broad pictures remained the distinguishing mark 103 of his poetry. In the stanza quoted above we find an example in "ryzhii gas'" -- 4 bird frequently seen on the lakes around Riazan'. Most of his similes were created on the basis of interpenetration between manifestations of Nature &.r\d- nun. He often refers to trees such as "iva," "riabina," "cheriomukha," "klion," "berioza," using their long established connotations to convey his own poetic ideas. In this manner he developed these images further; in each context, adding new shades of meaning or emotion. To i l l u s t r a t e , we can take the birch tree ri s i n g from Russian landscapes, slender in i t s silvery whiteness, with the f o l k l o r i c connotation of a maiden. Through Esenin's poetisation this image developed into a sorrowful and mysterious f a i r y v i r g i n who is sadly gazing at a pond; she has long silky hair through which moonlight runs l i k e a comb. In a different context the basic symbolism of the birch tree can acquire another meaning: He 6epe3KH-6ejiojiHMyiiiKH H3-no,q ro/jOBH noflpydjBHH, najBIVU-i COKO^IM-Apy.iCHHKH Hofl Ta Tape KHM H HaCeHKOMH. (I, 308, 1912) In order to strengthen folk-loric" connotation of the birch tree the poet uses double nouns ("beriozki-belolichushki." , "sokol'ia-druzhniki") typical of Russian popular poetry. In this case the image of innocence built around the birch tree i s used to emphasize the savage k i l l i n g of Russian soldiers by the Tatar intruders. Esenin made comparisons between different manifestations of Nature whether motionless, e.g.: "mesiats kak syrnyi. kusok"; "nebo slovno vymia" or, more frequently, in an active state which gave his similes 104 dynamism: "rozi kak svetliaki goriat"; "osen' ryzhaia kobyia cheshet grivu"; "veter kak sazha"; "taet kak raduga, zor'ka vecherniaia." The poet's sensations played a distinct role in furnishing the early poems with freshness and animation. His descriptions of colors, sounds, scents are neither elemental nor abstract but always embodied in a natural form, as part of a single or^ rather^ combined expression of Nature: "beriozovoe moloko," "sedye oblaka," "zoloto solntsa," "<ilyi svet z a r i " ; "zvon sosniaka," "shopot volny," "gomon kosarei"; "pakhnet smolistoi sosnoi," "pakhnet rykhlymi drachionami," "zapakh mioda ot nevinnykh ruk." Nature phenomena, so frequently described as being iii motion, make his descriptions dynamic and, at the same time^impart greater unity to the poem's different aspects. In such examples as "Zvon nadlomannoi dsoki" or " i zvenit pridorozhnymi travami ot ozior vodianoi veterok," we see how appearance and sound are interwoven. Sound and color can blend i n a single expression, e.g.: "v roshchakh po beriozkam belyi perezvon." Esenin's language has a natural flow, the components of i t s metaphors are bound together and can communicate the f u l l meaning only in this form. For example in "Listopad z l a t i t kholmy" color plays an organic part i n the picture of autumn with golden leave-; covering the h i l l s ; i t adds precision and emphasizes the features of the season. In order to emphasize his sensation and emotion the poet frequently employs'epithets but always in accordance with the poetic idea. In his poetry color is used more than any other manifestation of Nature, often in the form of epithets, primarily to convey emotional qualities. This contributed to the intensity of his lyricism. "Tuman golubo.i.," "s i n i a i a viuga," 105 "golubaia doroga," "pokrasnela riabina posinela voda," "osen' z l a t i t olmy," "v siniuiu vys'," "golubuiu ostavil Rus'," "tianetsia dym u malinovykh s i o l , " "devushka v beloi nakidke," "shelestiat zelionye seriozhki." During the last year of his l i f e Esenin wrote a cycle of poems Persian Melodies (Porsidskie mot ivy) (1925) with the theme of love developed in an exotic milieu. This cycle is completely different from the tragic overtones of jealousy, hopeless and u n f u l f i l l e d love of Moscow the Tavern  City. Here the poet describes harmonious relations where happiness comes from loving the other partner rather than from being loved, and resentment or vengeance do not come into the picture even in the case of betrayal. H KOiyj;a n o o T H A e T K Jw6vuoTd, A JWSvMaSl C A P V T H M JB.AHT Ha JIOJKIS., Bjnroto «HBHTe^ibHoM xpaiiHMHM, O H e i i a c e p A u e H e 3anycTHT H O ^ K H K . ( I l l , 114, 1925) In this cycle the exotic Persian landscape is often compared to the vastness of the Russian land: " O T H e r o .nyua TaK C B O T H T T V C K J I O Ha coptf H. ' . : i'OHH X o p o c c a H a ? C J I O B H O H xo.jcy p a B H H H o M p y e c w o H noA i i r y p i i i a i i J H M n o ^ i o r o M T y M a H a " , — (III, 117, 1925) In Persian Melodies the poet attained the height of his poetic s k i l l . The oriental atmosphere is recreated with abundant references'to many different colors. -The epithets and images are numerous and v i v i d : "Sinie tsvety Tegerana," "goluboi ogon 1," "lebiazh'i ruki," "strana i'erdousi," "Laskovyi urus," "Zadumchivo prostye glaza"; "lepestkami roza 106 razpleskalas*," "ruki miloi para lebedei," "luna bledneet pechal'no." Esenin's verses are known for their melodiousness and many of his poems such as 'The Maple Tree," "Letter to my Mother" (Pis'mo ma tori) (1924) have been successfully set to music. Persian Melodies, more than any other group of poems, are permeated with a constant flow of melody. Rhymes, which are otherwise rather scattered and unruly, here play an important role. The poem "Shagane" i s a good example for i t s musical qualities and characteristic versification. IHaraua T H M O H, UlaraHa! FIoTOMy, H T O H c ceBepa, H T O J M , H roTOB paccKa3aTb rede nojB, IIpO BOJIHHCTyiO pOKb ITpH JiyHe. IIIaraHo T H M O H, IUaraHa. FIoTOMy, H T O H c ceBepa, H T O J I H , H T O j r / H a TaM orpoMHeH B C T O pao, KaK dn HH dHJI KpaCHB IUHpaa, O H He jryHUie pH3aHG K H X pa3^ojiHH. rioTOMy, H T O a c ceBepa, HTO J I H . H T O T O B paccKa3aTb xede noje. 3TH BOJIOCH B3HJI H y ptCH, E C J M xoneiub, H a najien, BSTIM — H HHCKOJIbKO He HVBCTBVK) dOJIH. H T O T O B paccKa3aTb xede nojB. ripo BojiHHCTyio pcoKb npH jiyHe flo K V A P H M T H M O H M AoraAaMcH, /[oporaH, uryTH, yjindaMcn, He d y f l H TOjrbKO naMHTb B O M H O ripo BOJIHHCTyiO pcwcb npH jr/He. llIaraHO T H M O H, UlaraHa! TaM, Ha ceBepe, fleByuiKa TCwce, Ha Tedn OHa CTpaumo rroxo^ Ka, M C U B T , flyMaeT odo une... lllarana T H M O H, UJarana. ( I l l , 98, 1924) Tlie f i r s t stanza binds the rest of the poem organically by the fact that 107 each of its lines begins and ends the other stanzas. This order is not 'adh.en.-d to in the f i r s t and last verses which both begin and end with the same line. In each stanza the rhyme pattern is the same. Thus in the third stanza we have " b o l i " from the fourth line which goes with "pole" of the f i r s t and the f i f t h lines; then " r z h i " from the second ties in with "viazhi" from the third line . This work undoubtedly represents the height of the author's poetic technique,. The development of Esenin's lexicon is closely related to his growth as a poet. In his early works he used dialectisms extensively. The milieu of his childhood (Konstantinovo and Spas-klepiki) where his early formation as <3. poet took place also had a great influence on his language. Later on i n Petersburg, after some of his poems were published, he was influenced by Kliuev and encouraged by his use of the Olonets dialect to pay special attention to the local words of the Riazan' region, particularly to those that are almost forgotten. Here are some examples, mostly from his early works: "Kupyr»," "pribaski," "dergach," "bochag," "brusnitsa," "boronok," "podtyk," "vyt*," " u l o g i i , " "shchipul'nik," "leshchuga," "dontse," "golitsa," "kholivo," "skufia," "bavknut," "voi," "kvelyi," "elanki," " z a v d a l y i , " " k i v l i v y i , " "kolod," "korogod," "makhotka," "povitel'," "popki," "grebat," "zadvashit*," "koshnitsa," "drachiona," "siverga," "piaterik," "rezan'," "shirak," "diozhka," "gasnitsa," "otchar*," "obzha," "kukan," "noiat;" "podozochek," "skriazha," "skrianuf," "kuliga," "^utemy," "sugor'e," "nastno," "na-umiak," "lekhi," "khrup," "kopytit." To that we should add B i b l i c a l arid Church Slavonic expressions: "paskha," "spas," "bozhnitsa," "kanon," "Iordan," "drevo," "glava," "ochi," "chado."1 108 After the Revolution and with his growing r o l e as a national, poet the provincialisms gradually fade out of his vocabulary. Nevertheless, they w i l l remain as a natural part of the language of some of his characters such as, for instance, Pron's in Anna Snegina. Tn his poems with Revolutionary themes, Bi b l i c a l symbols and expressions are used either blasphemously as in: " l a krichu sniav s Khrista shtany"; "iazykom vylizhu na ikonakh i a / Lik muchenikov i sviatykh"; or to indicate the missionary" role of the Revolution in f u l f i l l i n g the dreams of Christianity: "Novyi na kobyle edet k miru spas . " Esenin also used many crudities i n his poems. Notable for this is the cycle Moscow the Tavern City_ from his imagist period: "Vydra, stei-va, parshyvaia suka" (for women), "garmonist spirtom s i f i l i s l e c h i t . " The pecularities of Esenin's language from the last two years can probably be seen best of a l l i n Persian Melodies and Anna Snegina. In the f i r s t work we find great numbers of exotic expressions, which were used to evoke the atmosphere of the East: the blue flowers of Teheran; a shawl from Khorassan; a carpet from Shiraz; lovely Lallah; a song of Khayyam; the songs of Saadi; the song of Scheherezade; the pale blue land of Firdousi; the gardens and walls of Khorassan. The language of Anna Snegina i s particularly interesting for the fact that each character has a different way of expressing himself, according to his own personality. Harsh and uncompromising, Pron's character is shown through his words-: Tap&KaHbe OTpoA£>el Bee K CHeriiHOHl.. P-pa3 M KBac! ( I l l , 289, 1.925) 109 But the kind hearted miller speaks in a different manner: "ro..TyOHHKl B O T paAOCTb! Cepryxa! 0 3 H d , naM? FIO A H npoApor? . ( I l l , 299, 1925) Throughout the poem the author showed remarkable s k i l l in maintaining the lexical style of each character according to his particular social and cultural level. But when the poet speaks lie uses local words and colloquial phrases, but selectively, with taste and concern for a reader unfamiliar with them. "Doroga dovol'no klioroshaia," "daiu sorokovku," "takoi otvratitel'nyi malyi." At the time of the creation of Anna Snegina there was a tendency among many Soviet writers to introduce freely as many unknown words as possible, without using any particular l i t e r a r y criterion. So Esenin employed many new expressions that were created during and after the October Revolution and were already becoming part of everyday language throughout the country: " l i p a , " "kalifstvoval," "seremiozhnaia rat'," "mortiry," "sorokovka," "kerenki," "desertir," "grazhdanin," "komissar," "kat'ka." In using the local words he seemed to have selected those that derive from already familiar roots: "Pochitai," "priiatstvenny," "zhist'," "buldyzhnik," "shishka," "starshina"^ or idioms: "my delu u s l o v i l i shir*," ".- vazhnye ochen' ne lezem." Tlius, the lexicon of Esenin's last two years was close to the lit e r a r y Russian language in vocabulary as well as i n the manner of selecting and using newly "found" words. 110 Footnotes Esenin's Craftsmariship and Lexicology 1. For the reader unfamiliar with them, the meaning of these words can be found either i n the glossary of Sergei Esenin, Stikhi i poemy (Leningrad: Lenizdat, 1965) or i n E. M. Galkina-Fedoruk, 0 s t i l e poezii  Sergeia Esenina; Leksicheskii sostav stikhotvorenii Sergeia Esenina (Moskva: Moskovskii universitet, 1965). 2. I b i d . I l l Conclusion One of the basic principles of Esenin's art is that of the interpenetrations and interconnections between landscapes and humans. In the poet's own soul there are no boundaries separating man from Nature, as we have seen i t in the previous chapters of this study. This influenced his poetry, in more than one way. Fi r s t of a l l i t gave to his imagination great freedom and creative p o s s i b i l i t y . Secondly, as he was able to use landscapes as means of unveiling human charactersitics, reciprocally he was able to attribute human qualities to Nature. Esenin gives equal consideration to the plant and animal world and treats them as a single entity, relating freely one to the other: a l i t t l e maple tree, "klenionochek," suckles i t s mother's udder. Also in the same prospective he views domestic and wild animals, for instance he gives equal poetic concern for the wolf as for the dog, or for the cow as for the fox. This shows the depth and sincerity of his conception of unity in Nature. An unrestrained flow and fusion of different sensations gathered from the world of Nature and human society represents the basis of Esenin's pantheism. The profound humanism and love for everything that has l i f e and beauty dominates his entire work. In his poetic response to the industrialization of Russia he showed, perhaps, more than anywhere else in his work, sensitivity and depth of his love for Nature. His 112 passionate protest against the destruction of l i v i n g Nature as evidenced in the works "Sorokoust" and "Volchia gibel'" is one of his finest poetic expressions. In the course of Esenin's short l i f e he witnessed cataclysmic changes in his country, the Firs t World War, the Revolution and the C i v i l War. These events had an influence on his l i f e and art. However, his basic conception of Nature prevails even i n the poetry of his last period. The poem Anna Snegina from his last year i s a good il l u s t r a t i o n . Here, besides descriptions of many characters and events, we find subtle but definite pantheistic approaches to l i f e and Nature. During the last two years of his l i f e the idea of suicide was very much present in his work. For Esenin dying was an art, he saw i t everywhere, i n Nature, i n human lives and i n his own l i f e as well; on this subject he wrote many poems. For Tolstoi dying was a nightmare against which he fought. Perhaps that was one of the reasons for his survival of his c r i s i s . Esenin's craftsmanship represents one of his finest achievements. Images are the most frequent and most important poetic device that he uses. These are b r i l l a n t projections, formed freely and spontaneously, endowed with l i f e and re a l i t y always veiled by passionate poetic expression. The imaginative part of Esenin's expressions (the tropes), as a whole, are neither instruments of his thoughts nor external ornaments, but are organically bound to l i f e by the poetic composition. However, they are of the greatest importance because they account for the essential beauty of his poetry. In his poetic figuration the essential thought, the "meaning" of any poem, is not explicit but rather i t i s indirectly communicated by sensual images created as clusters of sounds, smells and visual projections in which range he • particularly colorful. In most instances only the images can approach the depth of his emotions and surpass the power of ordinary language. 114 Bibliography Belousov, V. Sergei Esenin. Moskva: Izdatel'stvo "Znanie", 1965. Sergei Esenin. Moskva: Izdatel'stvo "Sovietskaia Rossiia", —'—1555:— Sergei Esenin. Moskva: Izdatel'stvo "Sovietskaia Rossiia", Galkina-Fedoruk, E.M. 0 s t i l e poezii Sergeia Esenina. Moskva: Izdatel'stvo Moskovskogo universiteta, 1965. Graaff de Frances. Sci-gei Esenin: biographical sketch. London, The Hague, Paris: Mouton and Co., 1966. Esenin, Sergei Aleksandrovich. Sobranie sochinenii. Moskva: Izdatel'stvo Khudozhestvennaia literatura, 1966. . Iudkevich, L.G. L i r i c h e s k i i geroi Esenina. Kazaif: Izdatel'stvo Kazanskogo universiteta, 1971. Iushin, P. Poeziia Sergeia Esenina 1910-1923 godov. Nbskva: Moskovskogo universiteta, 1966. . Sergei Esenin: ideino-tvorcheskaia evol/utsiia. Moskva: Moskovskogo universiteta, 1969. Korzhan, V.V. Esenin i narodnaia poeziia. Leningrad: Izdatel'stvo "Nauka", 1969. Marchenko, I l i a . Poeticheskii mir Esenina. Moskva: Sovetskii p i s a t e l ' , 1972": Naumov, E. Sergei Esenin. Leningrad: Lenizdat, 1969. Prokushev, Iu. Iunost' Esenina. Moskva: Moskovskii rabochii, 1963. , ed. Vospominaniia o Sergee Esenine. Moskva: Moskovskii rabochii, 1965. , ed. Na rodine Esenina. Moskva: Moskovskii rabochii, 1969. Roizman, Matvei. Vsio chto pomniu o Esenine. Nbskva: Izdatel'stvo "Sovietskaia Rossia", 1973. Shneider, I l ' l a . Vstrechls Eseninym. Nbskva" Izdatel'stvo "Sovietskaia Rossia", 1965. 115 Verzhbitskii, Nikolai. Vstrechi s Eseninym. T b i l i s i : Izdatel'stvo Soiuza pis a t e l e i Gruzii "Zari-a Vostoka', 1961. Veyrenc, Jacques. La forme poetigue de Serge Esenin, les rythmes. The Hague: Mouton, 1968. Voronskii, A. Literaturno-kriticheskie s t a t ' i . Moskva: "Sovietskii p i s a t e l " ' , 1963. Other Sources Aseev, N. " T r i vstrech s Sesninym", Sb. S. A. Esenin (Moskva: izd. GIZ, 1926) Beatty, Arthur. William Wordsworth, His Doctrine and Art i n Their Historical Relations. Madison: The University of Wiscons i n Press, 1962. Beliaev, I. Podlinnyi. Esenin. Sotsial'no-psikhologicheskii etiud (Voronezh: Grupa pisatelei Chernozem, 1927) Bukharin, N. Zlye zametki, o pisatel'skom etike (Leningrad, Priboi, 1927) Byron, Lord. The Poetic Works of Lord Byron. London: Frederick Warne, n.d. Vasil'ev, S. "Zhivaia poeziia. K 60-letiiu so dnia rozhdeniia S. Esnina", Ogoniok (Moskva), no.40, 1955. Vinbgradskaia, S o f i a . Kak z h i l Sergei Esenin (Moskva: Ogoniok, 1926) German, Emmanuel. "Seriozha", Vecheniaia Moskva, 31/XII, 1925. Gor'kii, Maxim. On Literature, Selected Art i c l e s . Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, n.d. Danilov, Mikh, "Pevets golubeni", Bakunskii Rabochii, 31/XII, 1925. Evgen'ev-Maksimov. Ocherk i s t o r i i noveishei russkoi literatury (Leningrad: izd. 2-e GIZ, 1926) Ivnev, Riurik, "0 Esenine". Sb. S.A. Esenin (Moskva: izd. GIZ, 1926) Ingulov, S. "V molitvennom ekstaze (o knige Esenina "Beriozovyi sitets'") Kommuna (Kaluga), 11/VIII, 1925. 116 Kleinbort, L. "Pechatnye organy i n t e l l i g e n t s i i iz naroda". Severnye  zapiski, no. 6, 1915. Kliuev, Nikolai. Sochineniia. Tom pervyi. Buchvertrieb und Verbog: 1969. Kogan, P.S. "Esenin", Vecherniaia Moskva, 31/XII, 1925. Konstantinov, L. "Poetichesk obzor za mai v Moskve", Znamia (Moskva), no. 3-4 (5-6), 1920. Lelevich, G. "0 bolezniakh i opasnostiakh". Sb. Protiv upadochnichestva (Moskva: izd. Pravda i Bednota, 1926) Lunacharskii, A . V . Doklad. upradochnoe nastroenie sredi molodiozhi i  preniia (Izd. Kommunisticheskaia Akademiia, Moskva, 1921) Pil'niak, Boris. "0 Sergee Esenine". Zhumalist (Moskva), no. 1, 1926. Ponomareff, C . A . "Death and Decay: an Analysis of S.A. Esenin's Poetic Form," Canadian Slavic Papers, vol. X, No. 2 (Summer, 1968), pp. 180-209. Sakulin, P. "Narodnyi zlatotsvet," Vestnik Evropy (Petrograd), no. 1916. Shestov, L. Dostoevskii, Tolstoi and Nietzsche. Athens, 0.: Ohio University Press, 1969. Slovo o Polku Igoreve. Moskva: Izdatel'stvo khudozhestvennaia literature, 1967. Sviatopolk-Mirskii, "Esenin" Volia Rossii, kn. V (Praga, 1926) Tolstoi, L.N. Polnoe sobranie sochinenii. Moskva: Gosizdat, Khudozhest-vennaia literature, 1957. Troiat, Henri. Tolstoi. New York: Doubleday, 1967. Khomchuk, N. "Esenin i Kliuev (Po neopublik. materialam)," Russkaia  literatura, no. 2, 1958. Khrapovitskii, L. "Krasa (o vechere gruppy 'krasa' v Petrograde)," Rudin (Petrograd) no. 1, 1915. Wordsworth, William. The Poetic Works of Wordsworth. London: Oxford University Press, 1928. 


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