The ballad

HeMonog o em nag 6annag, ho ecnH cnoBa 6onirr h cnoBa roBopirr npo to, tto 6onirr, MonogeeT h nag 6annag. The ballads' tune is very old but if words hurt and words speak about what hurts, even the ballads' tune becomes young. The Russian eighteenth-century odists quarreled about virtually every aspect of versification and poetic language, but they were unanimous in their conviction that poetry was a noble endeavor that deserved the attention of a cultivated public. They attempted to codify...

Russian Formal Poetry Meter

The most obvious way to set poetry off from prose is through meter. When, in the eighteenth century, Russians consciously decided to create a secular literary culture, they had several possible sources to choose from. Though Russia had a rich and varied oral tradition of folk song and heroic poetry, this could not serve as a point ofdeparture. The new literature had to be urbane and European, maximally distinguished from the uneducated entertainment ofthe common folk. Russian poets therefore...

From the ode to the elegy and beyond

3a tto h kto b XoTHHe nan, Ho nepBHH 3ByK XOTHHCKOH OflBI HaM nepBHM KpHKOM H3HH Cran. BnaflHcnaB XogaceBH , He am6om hh eTBipexcTonHHM The years have gnawed away from memory, Who fell at Khotin and for what, But the first sound of the Khotin ode Became our the first cry of life. Vladislav Khodasevich, Not in iambic tetrameter From the vantage point of the twenty-first century, the Russian eighteenth-century ode seems a forbidding and inaccessible genre. The poems are without exception long,...

Tradition and the individual talent

Bee 6i gt mo Bcrapt, Bce noBTOpifcrca cHOBa, H cMgoK HaM nnmb y3HaB Hta Miir. Everything was before, everything will repeat again, And for us only the moment of recognition is sweet. In any sphere of creativity, an unspoken directive to make it new coexists with an equally strong tacit imperative to retain qualities of the old. Pure repetition is tedious pure innovation is incoherent. To see how traditions evolve, one need look no further than the local movie theater. Seventy years ago,...