September 01, 2000

The Poet from the Black List

Poet Sasha Chyorny (1880-1932)  has never been on the list of “must-read” authors for Russian students. Nor does he belong to any well-established movement of poets. But his art left too noticeable a trace in Russian poetry for us to ignore the 120th anniversary of his birth (October 1).

In fact, Chyorny (“Black”) was even loved by the “leading light” of Soviet poetry, Vladimir Mayakovsky. The latter reportedly adored Chyorny and knew many of his verses by heart. Of course, in the official rankings of Russian poets, Chyorny would not likely make it into the top ten. He does not have the philosophical or historical genius of Pushkin, who could encapsulate an epoch in a stanza. Compare Pushkin’s famous lines about Peter the Great, who “raised Russia ... with an iron hand” and the line dedicated to St. Petersburg: “I love you, Peter’s creation,” with  how Chyorny, worn down by the city’s nasty weather, “praises” Tsar  Peter:


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