Yevgeny Baratynsky

Yevgeny Abramovich

Yevgeny Abramovich Baratynsky was born on March 2th of 1800 and died on July 11th of 1844 and was lauded by Alexander Pushkin as the finest Russian elegiac poet.

Baratynsky was considered as the supreme poet of thought.

His Poetry:

Baratynsky’s earliest poems are punctuated by conscious efforts to write differently from Pushkin who he regarded as a model of perfection.

“Even Eda”, his first long poem, though inspired by Pushkin’s “The Prisoner of the Caucasus”, adheres to a realistic and homely style, with a touch of sentimental pathos but not a trace of romanticism.

It is written, like all that Baratynsky wrote, in a wonderfully precise style, next to which Pushkin’s seems hazy.

The descriptive passages are among the best — the stern nature of Finland was particularly dear to Baratynsky.

His short pieces from the 1820s are distinguished by the cold, metallic brilliance and sonority of the verse.

They are dryer and clearer than anything in the whole of Russian poetry before Akhmatova.

The poems from that period include fugitive, light pieces in the Anacreontic and Horatian manner, some of which have been recognized as the masterpieces of the kind, as well as love elegies, where a delicate sentiment is clothed in brilliant wit.

In his mature work (which includes all his short poems written after 1829) Baratynsky is a poet of thought, perhaps of all the poets of the “nineteenth century” the one who made the best use of thought as a material for poetry.

This made him alien to his younger contemporaries and to all the later part of the century, which identified poetry with sentiment.

His poetry is, as it were, a short cut from the wit of the 18th-century poets to the metaphysical ambitions of the twentieth (in terms of English poetry, from Alexander Pope to T. S. Eliot).

Baratynsky’s style is classical and dwells on the models of the previous century.

Yet in his effort to give his thought the tersest and most concentrated statement, he sometimes becomes obscure by sheer dint of compression.

Baratynsky’s obvious labour gives his verse a certain air of brittleness which is at poles’ ends from Pushkin’s divine, Mozartian lightness and elasticity.

Among other things, Baratynsky was one of the first Russian poets who were, in verse, masters of the complicated sentence, expanded by subordinate clauses and parentheses.

Philosophy

Baratynsky aspired after a fuller union with nature, after a more primitive spontaneity of mental life.
He saw the steady, inexorable movement of mankind away from nature. The aspiration after a more organic and natural past is one of the main motives of Baratynsky’s poetry. He symbolized it in the growing discord between nature’s child — the poet — and the human herd, which were growing, with every generation, more absorbed by industrial cares. Hence the increasing isolation of the poet in the modern world where the only response that greets him is that of his own rhymes (Rhyme, 1841).

The future of industrialized and mechanized mankind will be brilliant and glorious in the nearest future, but universal happiness and peace will be bought at the cost of the loss of all higher values of poetry (The Last Poet). And inevitably, after an age of intellectual refinement, humanity will lose its vital sap and die from sexual impotence. Then earth will be restored to her primaeval majesty (The Last Death, 1827).

This philosophy, allying itself to his profound temperamental melancholy, produced poems of extraordinary majesty, which can compare with nothing in the poetry of pessimism, except Leopardi. Such is the crushing majesty of that long ode to dejection, Autumn (1837), splendidly rhetorical in the grandest manner of classicism, though with a pronouncedly personal accent.

Some Poems of Baratynsky:

The Sculptor

When fixed his gaze upon the stone,
The artist saw a nymph inside,
And fire ran through vein his own –
He flew to her in all his heart.

But though full of strong desire,
He’s now overcome the spell:
The chisel, piecemeal and unhurried,
From his high goddess, sanctified,
Removes a shell after a shell.

In the sweet and vague preoccupation
More than a day or a year will pass;
But from the goddess of his passion,
The fallen veil will not be last,

Until, perceiving his desire,
Under the chisel’s gentle caress,
And answering by a gaze of fire,
Sweat Galatea brings entire
The sage into a first embrace.

Two Fates

Wise Providence gave our perception
The choice between two different fates:
Either blind hope and agitation,
Or hopelessness and deadly rest.

Let him trust to seductive hopes,
Who’s sure with his unpracticed mind,
Who knows mocking fortunes slopes,
Only through rumour, spread behind.

Have hope, young people, brave and ardent!
Fly with your pairs of strongest wings;
For you the projects, great and sudden,
And young heart’s ever burning dreams!

But you, who’ve now tried and measured
All humane fate, deep grief and strife,
And vanity of humane pleasure –
Who doomed to knowledge of the life!

Away with those crowds tempting!
In quiet peace, live your days, last,
And guard the coldness, safely saving
Your now apathetic heart.

Just like the dry dead peoples’ corpses,
Which blessed with senseless of disease,
Waked up by spells of lords of forests,
Rise from their graves, gnashing their teeth,

So you, if kindle in hearts desire
And trust to the deceptive moods,
Will be awaked only for mire,
For fresh pain of the former wounds.

A Bard’s Sweet Song

A bard’s sweet song mends ailing constitution.
The harmony’s ever-mysterious reign
Will compensate the cumbersome illusion
And curb the sense that’s passionate and strained.
The poet’s soul, in a verse poured out,
Will be released from all her heavy pines;
And holy poetry will give the world around
And all its purity – to its girlfriend, at once.

You’re Useless, Days…

You’re useless, days! The earthly world will never
Change its used games!
We know them all, and our future, clever,
Predicts the same.

And not in vain you seethed and tossed in hurry
To live and grow,
Before the body, you engraved your fit, so starry,
My frenzied soul!

And having closed long ago the narrow circuit
Of worldly sense,
You drowse under breathe of dreams, recurrent;
But the body, else

Observes the day’s dawn, aimlessly supplanting
Again the night,
The fruitless evening, dully plunging, –
The day’s end, blunt.

Trivia: Yevgeny Baratynsky was often compared to the great Italian poet, erudite, philosopher, essayist and philologist, Giacomo Leopardi.

He was of noble ancestry.

Baratynsky lived in Finland for six years.

His first long poem, “Eda”, was written during this period in Finland.

Celebrating the life and poems of Yevgeny Baratynsky!

Jacqueline.

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One Response to Yevgeny Baratynsky

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