Избранные стихотворения и поэмы на английском языке с параллельными русскими текстами. Selected Poems English parallel Russian texts. Россия - СССР. Russia - USSR
Sergei Esenin was born on October 4, 1895, in Konstantinovo a village lying on the high right bank of the Oka in Central Russia, Today as in the poet's day:
The hill as white as ever gleams...
And at its foot
Still stands the big grey boulder.
From here you can see vast water-meadows carpeted with flowers in summer, sparkling lakes, coppices fading into the distance and the blue blur of the Meshchora forest on the horizon. Esenin spent his whole childhood in Konstantinovo. Barefoot, he would run off with other boys of his age to play in the meadows, or they would
take horses to water down by the river. "At night in calm weather the moon stands upright in the water," he recalled. "When the horses were drinking I thought they might drink the moon up at any moment and I was so glad when the moon floated away from their mouths on the ripples."
Flowers, rustling reeds, the lapping of waves — the beauty of the countryside inspired poetry. As an adolescent, Esenin was already writing lyrical poems about nature.
He went to the village school from 1905, then in 1909, at the age of fourteen, was enrolled at the Spas-Klepiki teacher training school about 30 kilometres away. On completing studies there he received the grade of elementary school teacher.
"I began writing verse early, when I was about nine, but I date my serious writing to the age of 16 or 17," he said later.
In 1912 he went to Moscow, intending to devote himself seriously to studies and poetry. His interest in literature brought him to the Surikov literary and musical circle which was at that time a meeting-place for budding writers of worker and peasant origin.
Early in 1913 he got a job as proof-reader's assistant at the Sytin printing-house. In the evenings he attended lectures at the Shanyavsky People's University, ranging from Russian and West European literature, French and Russian history to modern philosophy, politics, economics and logic.
A turning-point in his life was the spring of 1915:
A village dreamer,
In the city
A first-class poet I became.
"I had already written the book of poems Radunitsa," he recalled. "I sent some of the poems to St. Petersburg journals and, not getting any reply, went there myself." It was a journey into the unknown. He went without money or letters of recommendation, with his sole wealth — his poems. Arriving in the Russian capital Esenin went straight ,from the railway station to find the poet Alexander Blok. Russia was at war and he found a wartime city, renamed Petrograd, on the outbreak of hostilities with Germany in 1914. On March 9, 1915, Alexander Blok wrote in his diary: "Peremyshl surrendered. Fatigue. Ryazan lad with poems in the afternoon."
Esenin brought his very own Russia to the famous poet:
A garland just for you I weave
And your grey path I strew with flowers,
O Russia, land of perfect peace,
I love you and I trust your powers.
Blok had seen and heard many poets in his lifetime, both budding poets and famous ones. Little could surprise him. Yet Esenin did surprise, or rather, excite him. "Fresh, clear and resonant verse," he noted.
At their first meeting Blok chose six poems for publication. They made up a small cycle of verses. Knowing how difficult it was for a young poet, especially of peasant origin, to get his work published in the capital, and also aware that Esenin had no friends or acquaintances in Petrograd, had, in fact, nowhere to stay, Blok sent Esenin with the poems he had selected and a brief letter of recommendation to the poet Sergei Gorodetsky and the writer Mikhail Murashev. They both did all they could to help Esenin, especially in the first few months.
Shortly afterwards a reviewer wrote about Esenin's poems: "Listening to this verse, the weary, sated townsman senses the forgotten aroma of the fields, the cheerful scent of freshly-ploughed earth, the working life of the peasant he knows so little about, and his sluggish heart sophisticated by its searching and ordeals, begins to beat with something new and joyful."
Esenin's first book of verse, Radunitsa, appeared early in 1916. "Poetry is everywhere. One must only be able to sense it... In Esenin there speaks the spontaneous feeling of the peasant. Nature and the countryside have enriched his language with wondrous colours... There is nothing more precious for Esenin than his native land." This highly appreciative and penetrating comment on Esenin's first book was made by Professor P. N. Sakulin, a great lover and connoisseur of Russian poetry.
In later editions of Radunitsa Esenin included his remarkable poem "Russia". The image of the homeland in this poem is not obscured by religious symbols or vocabulary. It is the poet's own voice, his own song of his native land that we hear.
"What distinguished me sharply from many Petersburg poets of that ... Next
Introduction: Parts 2, Parts 3, Parts 4, Parts 5 and Parts 6