By Alyssa W. Dinega
Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva's strong poetic voice and her tragic existence have usually brought on literary commentators to regard her as both a martyr or a monster. Born in Russia in 1892, she emigrated to Europe in 1922, again on the peak of the Stalinist Terror, and devoted suicide in 1941. This paintings makes a speciality of her poetry, rediscovering her as a major philosopher with a coherent creative and philosophical imaginative and prescient.
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Additional info for A Russian Psyche: The Poetic Mind of Marina Tsvetaeva
Thus, a military ethos shapes Derzhavin’s poem, as it does Tsvetaeva’s; the two central themes of Derzhavin’s poem, which intersect in the event of Suvorov’s death, are the relationship of poetic exploits to military ones, and the loss of a masculine ideal. Tsvetaeva borrows these two themes in ‘‘The Drum’’ and gives them each a creative twist. Derzhavin’s literal war against the French revolutionaries (who are symbolized by the hyena in ‘‘The Bullﬁnch’’), in service to which Suvorov spent his last years as commander of the Russo-Austrian army, 26 Introduction is transformed into Tsvetaeva’s ﬁgurative battle ‘‘for hearts’’—that is, the battle for her own poetic eﬃcacy.
For, she does not write that motherhood is her destiny; rather, that it is her potential happiness. Just as the query in the poem’s ﬁrst stanza must be read in context as an awareness of the very impossibility of the possibility of which she speaks, here, too, context requires that this apparent embrace of ‘‘ordinary female happiness’’ be understood as the poet’s expression of an unrealizable, though desperate, desire. Years later, she would provide a sad recapitulation of this poem’s prophetic message in her unﬁnished poema ‘‘The Bus’’ [‘‘Avtobus’’], in which the aging poet realizes that all the other passengers on a crowded bus are bound for the land of happiness, but she will ride past.
True, when the poet exclaims enigmatically, ‘‘Oh, let me die, while all of life is still like a book for me,’’ she does admit her allegiance to books over life, to the literary over reality. At the same time, though, she acknowledges that this triumph of pure imagination is now about to end—as a book is apt to end—with her entry into adult responsibility and the encroachment of the mundane into her attentions. The poetic ‘‘death’’ she calls for at the end of the poem is thus an antidote to the ﬁgurative death of maturation that is already upon her.
A Russian Psyche: The Poetic Mind of Marina Tsvetaeva by Alyssa W. Dinega