The Bedbug and Selected Poetry

The Bedbug and Selected Poetry

The Bedbug and Selected Poetry

The Bedbug and Selected Poetry

Excerpt

Early in the morning of April 14, 1930, the Russian poet Semyon Kirsanov telephoned Vladimir Mayakovsky and asked him for the name of his tailor in Moscow. Mayakovsky, who was something of a dandy, invited Kirsanov to join him at the tailor's the following day.

Now, that morning had begun like many others in Mayakovsky's life. He had made a date with one of his literary friends; some lines of a poem he had been playing with for months had at last come clear in his mind; and he was again contemplating the act that had obsessed him all his life. In observance of the Russian superstition that before death a man must put on clean linen, he changed his shirt. On his desk he placed a letter he had prepared two days before. But still he was undecided. He placed a single cartridge in the cylinder of his revolver; twice before he had played Russian roulette with himself and won. That day, at 10:15 a.m., he lost his life in the game. The final version of the verses he left behind reads: "And, as they say, the incident is closed./Love's boat has smashed against the daily grind./Now life and I are quits. Why bother then/to balance mutual sorrows, pains, and hurts."

His friend Boris Pasternak has described the hours that followed:

Between eleven and twelve the ripples were still circling around the shot. The news rocked the telephones, blanketed faces with pallor, and directed one to the Lubyansky Passage, through the yard and into the house, where . . .

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