It is indeed time for the revolutionary poet, and here I mean Mayakovsky. Mayakovksy is a warning. If you live your ideology, it will destroy you.
Mayakovsky’s poetry was saturated with politics, but no amount of social propaganda could stifle his personal need for love, which burst out again and again because of repeated romantic frustrations. After his early lyrics this need came out particularly strongly in two poems, “Lyublyu” (1922; “I Love”) and “Pro eto” (1923; “About This”). Both of these poems were dedicated to Lilya Brik, the wife of the writer Osip Maksimovich Brik. Mayakovsky’s love for her and his friendship with her husband had a strong influence on his poetry. Even after Mayakovsky’s relationship with Lilya Brik ended, he considered her one of the people closest to him and a member of his family. During a stay in Paris in 1928, he fell in love with a refugee, Tatyana Yakovleva, whom he wanted to marry but who refused him. At the same time, he had misunderstandings with the dogmatic Russian Association of Proletarian Writers and with Soviet authorities. Nor was the production of his Banya a success. Disappointed in love, increasingly alienated from Soviet reality, and denied a visa to travel abroad, he committed suicide in Moscow.
The main poem here is part of a verse polemic Mayakovsky had with Esenin, who was drinking himself to death, before committing suicide five years before Mayakovsky. The puritanism of the progressive is clearly seen.
To Sergei Esenin
You have passed, as they say, into worlds elsewhere.
Fly, cutting your way into starry dubiety.
No advances, no pubs for you there.
No, Yessenin, this is not deridingly,-
in my throat not laughter but sorrow racks.
I see – your cut-open hand maddeningly,
swings your own bones like a sack.
Stop it, chuck it! Isn’t it really absurd?
Allowing cheeks to flush with deathly hue?
You who could do such things with words,
that no one else on earth could do.
Why, for what? Perplexity appalls.
Critics mutter: “The main fault we find
there was hardly any working-class contact at all,
as a result of too much beer and wine.”
So to say, if you had swopped bohemianism for class,
there’d have been no bust-up,
class’d have influenced
But does class quench its thirst with kvass?
Class, too, is no fool when it comes to drinking.
They’d have attached to you someone from On Guard,
and the main accent would have been on content:
a hundred lines a day you’d have written hard,
as tedious and long-winded as Doronin’s attempts.
Before I’d created such nonsensical stink,
I’d have choked my very own breath.
Better far to die of drink,
than be bored to death!
Neither the noose nor the penknife there
will reveal the true cause of this loss. But,
maybe, if there had been ink in the Angleterre,
there’d have been no reason for veins to be cut.
“Encore!” imitators coo in delight.
Over you almost a squad committed base jinks.
Why increase the number of suicides?
Better to increase the output of ink!
It’s grievous and misplaced to be mystery-propagators.
For ever now your tongue by teeth’s locked tight.
Of the people, the language-creators,
a sonorous apprentice-debauchee has died.
And, as condolences, poetic junk they gave,
unrehashed hangovers from funerals of the past.
Blunted rhymes are shoved in to exorcise your grave-
is that how a poet is honoured at the last?
A monument for you hasn’t yet been cast-
where it is, bronze reverberant or granite grand? –
but there, already, by memory’s bars
dedications and memoirs of rubbish stand.
Your name into handkerchiefs they’re sniveling,
your words by Sobinov are slobberingly lisped there-
and they wind up under a dead birch tree quivering:
“Not a word, O my friend, not a wh-i-s-p-e-r,”
Eh, to a quite a different tune I’d switch
and just tell that Leonid Lohengrinich!
I’d rise up here a thundering scadalist:
“I won’t allow poems to be mangled by mutts!
I’d deafen them with a double-barreled whistle.
They can stick ’em where the monkey stuck his nuts!”
And so disperse such talentless filth,
blowing away jacket-sails engendered darkness,
so that helter-skelter runs Kogan and his ilk,
mutilating oncomers with the spears of his moustaches.
The ranks of rubbish meanwhile haven’t grown much thinner.
There’s so much to do – just to catch up with things yet.
Life must be changed to begin with.
And having changed it – then one can sing it.
These days are difficult for the pen.
But tell me, you crooks and cripples wheezy,
which great ones ever choose- where and when?
a path already trodden smooth and easy?
The word – in the C-in-C of human powers.
Forward march! That time may whistle by as rockets flare.
So the wind shall carry to the past of ours
only the ruffling of our hair.
Our planet is poorly equipped for delight.
One must snatch gladness from the days that are.
In this life
it’s not difficult to die.
To make life
is more difficult by far.
The Soviets made their poets despair. There is no love in economics or materialist atheism, and their world fell for lack of love. Or stupidity. Master Li, that wonderful invention of Barry Hugart, said it tersely.
Referring, to a peasant who was found to be a genius and then shunned by the woke. A little more like Esenin than Mayakovsky.
“Is it any wonder that our greatest men have lurched rather than walked across the landscape as they hiccupped their way into history?” “Sir, that’s the best autobiography I ever heard!” I said enthusiastically.
So to those who would go full woke. Do not. Learn from history. Ideology has destroyed better men than you.