Alexander Blok

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My spirit is old; and some black lot awaits me on my long road.

Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Blok (1880-11-28 NS1921-08-07) was a Russian poet and dramatist, generally considered to be the greatest of the Russian Symbolists.

Sourced[edit]

  • My spirit is old; and some black lot awaits me
    On my long road.
    Some dream accurst, inveterate, suffocates me
    Still with its load.
    So young – yet hosts of dreadful thoughts appal me,
    Sick and opprest.
    Come! and from shadowy phantoms disenthral me,
    Friend.
    • "My Spirit is Old" (1899); translation from Oliver Elton Verse from Pushkin and Others (London: E. Arnold, 1935) p. 175.


  • When rowan leaves are dank and rusting
    And rowan berries red as blood,
    When in my palm the hangman's thrusting
    The final nail with bony thud,
    When, over the foul flooding river,
    Upon the wet grey height, I toss
    Before my land's grim looks, and shiver
    As I swing here upon the cross,
    Then, through the blood and weeping, stretches
    My dying sight to space remote;
    I see upon the river’s reaches
    Christ sailing to me in a boat.
    • "Autumn Love" (1907); translation from C. M. Bowra (ed.) A Book of Russian Verse (London: Macmillan, 1943) p. 99.


  • O, my Russia! O, wife! The long road is clear to us to the point of pain. Our road – like a Tatar arrow of ancient will has pierced our breast.
    • "On Kulikovo Field" (1908); translation from Sarah Pratt Nikolai Zabolotsky (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 2000) p. 53.


  • What message, years of conflagration,
    have you: madness or hope? On thin
    cheeks strained by war and liberation
    bloody reflections still remain.
    • "Those Born in Years of Stagnation" (1914); translation from Jon Stallworthy and Peter France (trans.) The Twelve, and Other Poems (New York: Oxford University Press, 1970) p. 139.


  • Grip your gun like a man, brother!
    Let's have a crack at Holy Russia,
    Mother
    Russia
    with her big, fat arse!
    Freedom, freedom! Down with the cross!
    • The Twelve (1918); translation from Jon Stallworthy and Peter France (trans.) The Twelve, and Other Poems (New York: Oxford University Press, 1970) p. 146.


  • Hell and damnation,
    life is such fun
    with a ragged greatcoat
    and a Jerry gun!
    • The Twelve (1918); translation from Jon Stallworthy and Peter France (trans.) The Twelve, and Other Poems (New York: Oxford University Press, 1970) p. 147.


  • So they march with sovereign tread…
    Behind them limps the hungry dog,
    and wrapped in wild snow at their head
    carrying a blood-red flag
    soft-footed where the blizzard swirls,
    invulnerable where bullets crossed –
    crowned with a crown of
    snowflake pearls,
    a flowery diadem of frost,
    ahead of them goes Jesus Christ.
    • The Twelve (1918); translation from Jon Stallworthy and Peter France (trans.) The Twelve, and Other Poems (New York: Oxford University Press, 1970) p. 160.


Criticism[edit]

  • Blok was probably the greatest Russian poet since Pushkin; although internationally less well known than Rilke and Valéry, he is of their stature and importance. He revolutionized Russian versification by making use of a purely accentual technique. He knew, as so few now know, that only the poetry of suffering – whether it is a poetry of joy or not – can be great. His own poetry, for which he burnt himself out, demonstrates this.

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