Moscow in the Plague Year: Poems by Marina Tsvetaeva

By Marina Tsvetaeva

Written in the course of the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the Moscow famine that undefined, those poems are suffused with Tsvetaeva's irony and humor, which surely accounted for her good fortune in not just achieving the tip of the plague 12 months alive, yet making it the best of her occupation. We meet a drummer boy idolizing Napoleon, an irrepressibly mischievous grandmother who refuses to make an apology to God on Judgment Day, and an androgynous (and luminous) Joan of Arc.

"Represented on a graph, Tsvetaeva's paintings might convey a curve - or really, a immediately line - emerging at nearly a correct perspective due to her consistent attempt to elevate the pitch a word greater, an idea larger ... She continuously carried every thing she has to claim to its plausible and expressible finish. In either her poetry and her prose, not anything continues to be putting or leaves a sense of ambivalence. Tsvetaeva is the original case during which the paramount non secular event of an epoch (for us, the experience of ambivalence, of contradictoriness within the nature of human lifestyles) served now not because the item of expression yet as its ability, in which it was once remodeled into the fabric of art." --Joseph Brodsky

While your eyes stick with me into the grave, write up the full caboodle on my go! 'Her days started with songs, led to tears, but if she died, she cut up her facets with laugher!'
--from Moscow within the Plague 12 months: Poems

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198); together with the speculation in ‘The Old Fools’ (1973) that ‘Perhaps being old is having lighted rooms / ­inside your head’ (p. 196). And then there is ‘being dead’, in ‘Aubade’ (1977) (p. 208), which recalls a 1949 poem of his, ‘On Being Twenty-six’, where ‘being dead’ leads on to a conclusion which speaks of ‘devaluing dichotomies: / Nothing, and paradise’ (p. 24). Or again, ‘At thirty-one’ (1953), with its admission that ‘I, being neither [rich nor dead], have a job instead’, a poem which confesses to writing letters to women ‘instead of planning how / I best can thrive’, letters which ‘owe / Too much elsewhere’ to be love letters (pp.

A decade later, it might well have seemed proleptic of his current situation. Its Audenesque vision of failure at the heart of ostensible success, its self-questioning and self-contempt, recall the rhetorical questions and reversals, often in a second, internally distantiated voice within the poem’s main discourse, with which Auden concluded many early poems. Even the exclamatory ‘O’ with which the direct reported speech breaks into the narrative in the poem’s sestet is classic early Auden. Twelve poems in The English Auden actually begin with ‘O’, in four of which it issues directly in semi-rhetorical questions, and there are many more such overheated or merely posturing vocatives scattered throughout the body of his early poetry.

The same infolding affects ‘wish’ and ‘desire’, and leads from ‘alone’ to ‘oblivion’. indb 37 18/09/2007 14:39:17 On the Edge of Things: Philip Larkin ‘The wish to be alone’. ‘Being’ in Larkin’s poetry is rarely just untrammelled existence, the ontological present tense. It is usually a matter of being something else and, in the process, adulterated. There is, early, ‘The instantaneous grief of being alone’ (in ‘Kick up the fire’, Collected Poems, p. 285); or, later, ‘happy at being on my own’ (in ‘To the Sea’, p.

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