Yesenin, Isadora, and Russia

I was told that when your passion shines through your writing, the readers will read to the end and many will return again and again. Therefore some of the best writing occurs when one is passionate about their topic of choice. For instance, when I was pondering what was going to be the topic of my blog, I could not think of anything other than Russia – I wrote about what I knew and loved best.

Therefore, today I want to introduce a very special Russian poet, Sergei Yesenin, best known for his great and unconditional passion for mother Russia. He was one of the most popular Russian poets of the 20th century. Born on October 3rd 1895, he was the son of a peasant in the Ryazan province, village of Konstantinovo. He spent his childhood among the fields and steppes of the Russian Empire, brought up mostly by his grandparents. His grandmother was utterly religious, dragging her grandson to monasteries, but Sergei never believed much in God.

He started writing poems early, from age 9 as he recalls, but his conscious creation began at age sixteen, inspired by the beauty of the countryside. At seventeen, he left his village and moved to Moscow in pursue of his dream. To his luck, during a casual trip to St. Petersburg his poetry was discovered by Blok, Gorodetsky, and Klyuev. Alexander Blok became very fond of this young gentleman’s poetry.

What came later was a life of a distinguished poet – filled with poetry, creation, dedication, romance, and disillusion. Although he ended his life at age thirty, he left a huge cultural impact on Russia.

Throughout his life, he became involved with many different women, and had a total of three marriages. Perhaps his most famous marriage was that to Isadora Duncan, an American legendary and free-spirited dancer, older than him by eighteen years. The Russians loved her, and she loved them back, despite the fact that her marriage to Yesenin was brief. Isadora’s dramatic life was marked by her tragic death – her trendsetting light scarf got trapped in the wheels of her convertible during a road trip, causing instant death.

This video is a Russian song by Aleksandr Malinin inspired by Isadora’s death. The lyrics go somewhat like this, Oh, Isadora, ask the driver, to turn back! Oh, Isadora Duncan, accidents are pursuing us since forever…”

A couple of years ago my grandmother gave me a very beautiful book. It was a collection of Yesenin’s poems. I was always fascinated with this book, ever since I was a little girl and all I could do is flip through the pages and admire the photography accompanying the poetry. So here I will leave you with photographs of the Russian countryside, the one the poet loved so much, and the one that became the protagonist of so many of his poems.

I photographed pages from the book (click on any image to enlarge).

“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.”

In my opinion, it’s the most beautiful suicide note…

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4 thoughts on “Yesenin, Isadora, and Russia

    • Well, thank you. I confess that it was hard to attach the poems, because first of all, he has sooo many, and second of all I was really lazy when it came to translating, so I just googled some translations, which are obviously sucky. But I still believe I got my message across..

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