Author(s): Peter France
Aleksandr Blok (1880-1921) lived thought his country's savage wars and radical traumas, trying to welcome the new order. But there was no space in it for his kind of imagination. His poem "The Twelve" has claims to being the first great poem of the Russian Revolution. It remains enigmatic, the language elevated, the tone celebratory, even mystical. Mayakovsky, bringing Revolution into the very language and form of his poetry, wrote against Blok and the old forms, answering "The Twelve" with "150,000,000". Trotsky wrote "Certainly Blok is not one of us, but he came towards us. And that is what broke him." But for Pasternak and others among his successors, he was a great and unofficial master. In this collection, Jon Stallworthy and Peter France introduce a wide range of Blok's poetry into English, retaining as much as possible his distinctive form and tone. His early poetry is inspired by mystical experience which did not entirely leave him during the Revolution, and the Beautiful lady in his work is less a conceit than a powerful enabler.
Author won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1990.