Pavel Kogan (poet)

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Pavel Davidovich Kogan (Russian: Па́вел Дави́дович Кога́н; 7 July 1918, Kiev – 23 September 1942, near Novorossiysk) was a Jewish Soviet poet who died fighting as a soldier in the Second World War.[1]


Though born in Kiev, Pavel and his family moved to Moscow in 1922. He studied at the Maxim Gorky Literature Institute and at the Moscow Institute of History, Philosophy and Literature.

Kogan twice hiked the trails of central Russia. He learned about World War II while on a geological expedition to Armenia. Returning immediately to Moscow, he tried to enlist in the army, but was turned down due to his poor health. Undeterred, he finished a series of courses and became a military interpreter. In 1942, Kogan was killed by the Germans while leading a reconnaissance mission, aged 24.

All of his poems were published posthumously. They became famous during the Khrushchev Thaw, mainly due to a popular song called "Brigantina" (Brigantine, 1937) which was written using his lyrics.


Angular sculpture of muscle

And bronze - Demon or Idol?

And an unmistakable hurt

In the sharp, narrow eye

More ancient than China and Greece

More ancient than Art and Erotica

Such manic grace

in every authentic turn

When, huffing and swearing

God let creatures into the bottomless world

He created himself from Chaos

Avoiding hands of God

But a Human, creation of God,

A blind reflection of God's image

Threw him on the ground and bound him,

Touched him with a sure, possessive hand

Ferocious desire for freedom

Throws him into the walls of the cage

How meek he becomes, how pitifully he ages

When he sees the caretaker with his food

How within him fused together

Thick rage and acceptance

He, who's been bad-mouthed and put-down,

But still a God, by his ancient right

We left

The evening was the color of straw

You walked with self-assurance

but something in your broken gesture

Reminded me of the caged tiger


Translated by Margarita Uhanova


  1. ^ Rina Lapidus (2014). "Pavel Kogan (1918-1942): poet of romantic adventures". Young Jewish Poets Who Fell as Soviet Soldiers in the Second World War. Routledge. pp. 150–163. ISBN 978-1-134-51683-4. 

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