Sergei Yesenin

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Sergei Yesenin
Esenin Moscow 1922.jpg
Sergei Yesenin, 1922
Born Sergei Alexandrovich Yesenin
(1895-10-03)3 October 1895
Konstantinovo, Ryazan Oblast, Russian Empire
Died 28 December 1925(1925-12-28) (aged 30)
Leningrad, Soviet Union
Nationality Russian
Occupation Lyrical poet
Movement Imaginism
Spouse(s)

Anna Izryadnova
(m. 1913)
Zinaida Reich
(1917–1921)
Isadora Duncan
(1922–1925)

Sophia Tolstaya
(1925–his death)

Sergei Alexandrovich Yesenin (sometimes spelled as Esenin; Russian: Серге́й Алекса́ндрович Есе́нин; IPA: [sʲɪrˈgʲej ɐlʲɪkˈsandrəvʲɪtɕ jɪˈsʲenʲɪn]; 3 October [O.S. 21 September] 1895 – 28 December 1925) was a Russian lyrical poet. He was one of the most popular and well-known Russian poets of the 20th century.[1]

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

Yesenin's birth house in Konstantinovo

Sergey Esenin was born in Konstantinovo in the Ryazan Province (Губерния, Gubernia) of the Russian Empire to a peasant family. He spent most of his childhood with his grandparents, who essentially reared him. He began to write poetry at the age of nine.

In 1912, Esenin moved to Moscow, where he supported himself working as a proofreader in a printing company. The following year he enrolled in Moscow Charnyavsky University as an external student and studied there for a year and a half. His early poetry was inspired by Russian folklore. In 1915, he moved to Petrograd, where he became acquainted with fellow-poets Alexander Blok, Sergey Gorodetsky, Nikolai Klyuev and Andrei Bely and became well known in literary circles. Blok was especially helpful in promoting Yesenin's early career as a poet. Yesenin said that Bely gave him the meaning of form while Blok and Klyuev taught him lyricism.

Life and career[edit]

In 1916, Yesenin published his first book of poems, Radunitsa (Russian: Радуница). Through his collections of poignant poetry about love and the simple life, he became one of the most popular poets of the day. His first marriage was in 1913 to Anna Izryadnova, a co-worker from the publishing house, with whom he had a son, Yuri.

From 1916 to 1917, Yesenin was drafted into military duty, but soon after the October Revolution of 1917, Russia exited World War I. Believing that the revolution would bring a better life, Yesenin briefly supported it, but soon became disillusioned. He sometimes criticised the Bolshevik rule in such poems as The Stern October Has Deceived Me.

In August 1917 Yesenin married for a second time to Zinaida Raikh (later an actress and the wife of Vsevolod Meyerhold). They had two children, a daughter Tatyana and a son Konstantin. The parents quarreled and lived separately for some time prior to their divorce in 1921. Tatyana became a notable writer, and Konstantin Yesenin would become a well-known soccer statistician.

In September 1918, Yesenin founded his own publishing house called "Трудовая Артель Художников Слова" (the "Labor Company of the Artists of the Word"). Together with Anatoly Marienhof, they founded the Russian literary movement of imaginism.

Yesenin and Duncan (1922)

In the fall of 1921, while visiting the studio of painter Georgi Yakulov, Yesenin met the Paris-based American dancer Isadora Duncan, a woman 18 years his senior. She knew only a dozen words in Russian, and he spoke no foreign languages. They married on 2 May 1922. Yesenin accompanied his celebrity wife on a tour of Europe and the United States. His marriage to Duncan was brief and in May 1923, he returned to Moscow.

In 1923 Yesenin became romantically involved with the actress Augusta Miklashevskaya to whom he dedicated several poems. The same year he had a son by the poet Nadezhda Volpin. Their son, Alexander Esenin-Volpin grew up to become a poet and a prominent activist in the Soviet dissident movement of the 1960s. He lives in the United States, a famous mathematician and teacher.

In 1925 Yesenin met and married his fourth wife, Sophia Andreyevna Tolstaya, a granddaughter of Leo Tolstoy.

Death[edit]

On 28 December 1925 Yesenin was found dead in his room in the Hotel Angleterre. His last poem Goodbye my friend, goodbye (До свиданья, друг мой, до свиданья) according to Wolf Ehrlich was given to him the day before. Yesenin complained that there was no ink in the room, and he was forced to write with his blood.

Sergei Yesenin on his death bed (1925)

According to the version that is now also common among academic researchers of Yesenin's life, the poet was in a state of depression a week after the end of treatment in a mental hospital and committed suicide by hanging.

After the funeral in the Union in Leningrad, poet Yesenin's body was transported by train to Moscow, where a farewell for relatives and friends of the deceased was also arranged. He was buried December 31, 1925, in Moscow's Vagankovskoye Cemetery. His grave is marked by a white marble sculpture.

A theory exists that Yesenin's death was actually a murder by NKVD agents who staged it to look like suicide. The novel "Yesenin"[2] published by Vitali Bezrukov is devoted to this version of Yesenin's death. In 2005 TV serial "Sergey Yesenin" based on this novel (with Sergey Bezrukov playing Yesenin) was shown on Channel One Russia. The film was criticized by forensic experts who found its arguments unconvincing.[3][4][5][6]

The Ryazan State University is named in his honour.[7]

Cultural impact[edit]

Yesenin's suicide triggered an epidemic of copycat suicides by his mostly female fans. Although he was one of Russia's most popular poets and had been given an elaborate funeral by the State, most of his writings were banned by the Kremlin during the reigns of Joseph Stalin and Nikita Khrushchev. Nikolai Bukharin's criticism of Yesenin contributed significantly to the banning. Only in 1966 were most of his works republished. Today Yesenin's poems are taught to Russian schoolchildren; many have been set to music and recorded as popular songs. His early death, coupled with unsympathetic views by some of the literary elite, adoration by ordinary people, and sensational behavior, all contributed to the enduring and near mythical popular image of the Russian poet.

In popular culture[edit]

In 2005 Russian studio Pro-Cinema Production produced a TV mini-series "Yesenin" about the life of the poet [1]. The movie described the version of his death according to which he was murdered by NKVD agents who staged his suicide.

Sergei Yesenin's final poem was a major inspiration for the Bring Me the Horizon song "It Was Written In Blood" on their album Suicide Season.

Multilanguage editions[edit]

Anna Snegina (Yesenin's poem translated into 12 languages; translated into English by Peter Tempest) ISBN 978-5-7380-0336-3

Works[edit]

  • The Scarlet of the Dawn (1910)
  • The high waters have licked (1910)
  • The Birch Tree (1913)
  • Autumn (1914)
  • Russia (1914)
  • I'll glance in the field (1917)
  • I left the native home (1918)
  • Hooligan (1919)
  • Hooligan's Confession (1920) (Italian translation sung by Angelo Branduardi)
  • I am the last poet of the village (1920)
  • Prayer for the First Forty Days of the Dead (1920)
  • I don't pity, don't call, don't cry (1921)
  • Pugachev (1921)
  • Land of Scoundrels (1923)
  • One joy I have left (1923)
  • A Letter to Mother (1924)
  • Tavern Moscow (1924)
  • Confessions of a Hooligan (1924),
  • A Letter to a Woman (1924),
  • Desolate and Pale Moonlight (1925)
  • The Black Man (1925)
  • To Kachalov's Dog (1925)
  • Goodbye, my friend, goodbye (1925) (His farewell poem)
Original in Russian

До свиданья, друг мой, до свиданья.
Милый мой, ты у меня в груди.
Предназначенное расставанье
Обещает встречу впереди.
До свиданья, друг мой, без руки, без слова,
Не грусти и не печаль бровей,-
В этой жизни умирать не ново,
Но и жить, конечно, не новей.

English Translation

Goodbye, my friend, goodbye
My love, you are in my heart.
It was preordained we should part
And be reunited by and by.
Goodbye: no handshake to endure.
Let's have no sadness — furrowed brow.
There's nothing new in dying now
Though living is no newer.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Merriam-Webster, Inc (1995). Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia Of Literature. Merriam-Webster. pp. 1223–. ISBN 978-0-87779-042-6. Retrieved 28 October 2012. 
  2. ^ Bezrukov, Vitali (2005). Есенин. Moscow: Amfora. ISBN 5-94278-924-X. 
  3. ^ Romanova, Natalia. "Сергей Есенин. Убийство Есенина - убийство совести русского народа коммунистическим режимом". The Epoch Times. 
  4. ^ Vorsobin, Vladimir (10 November 2005). "Смерть Есенина: убийство или самоубийство?". Komsomolskaya Pravda. 
  5. ^ Romashenkova, Tatiana (25 December 2005). "Есенина не убивали". Ogoniok. 
  6. ^ Vetrov, Vladimir. "Тайна смерти Сергея Есенина". 
  7. ^ "Кратко об университете". Ryazan State University. Retrieved 2009-09-08. 

External links[edit]

Collection of Sergey Yesenin's Poems in English: