One Less Hope: Essays on Twentieth-Century Russian Poets

By Constantin V. Ponomareff | Go to book overview

Boris Poplavsky: Poet of Unknown Destination

The entire horizon is blindingly occupied by
God; in every sweaty creature He is right there
again. Eyesight grows dim and there is no shade
anywhere, for there is no home of my own, but
only history, eternity, apocalypse. There is no
soul, no personality, no I, nothing is mine; from
heaven to earth there is only the fiery waterfall of
universal existence, inception, disappearance.
Boris Poplavsky: Homeward from Heaven111


The Life of a Poet

In her excellent essay on Poplavsky’s life113 Elena Menegaldo gives us meaningful insights into Poplavsky’s childhood years:

… but it is noteworthy, nonetheless, [she wrote] that Boris always felt himself to be a child
who had no mother, - this is confirmed by key images in his poems and in his search for the
ideal woman who would be both mother and wife to him. There is no doubt that what
contributed to his feeling of bitter loneliness was, in no small way, his mother’s imperious
character, and her demands could not but conflict with the embittered opposition of the child
who was defending his inner self. It was an irreconcilable conflict that in the end led to open
warfare. (N., 27)

Menegaldo continued:

Without any doubt Boris’s mother never thought about her responsibility in the shaping of
her son’s character, did not give any thought to how her innumerable moralizing forays, her
reproaches and demands and, what is most important, her lack of affection made her
sensitive child suffer and triggered an inferiority complex in him which in turn had a
decisive influence in developing a sense of social inadequacy which caused Sofia
Valentinovna so much grief. (N., 27)

112 Translated from Poplavsky’s novel by Simon Karlinsky in his “In search of Poplavsky: a
collage,” in The Bitter Air of Exile, op. cit., pp. 311-33, here p. 323.

113 See Elena Menegal’do, “Liniya zhizni,” in Boris Poplavsky, Neizdannoe. Dnevniki. Stat’i.
Stikhi. Pis ‘ma
, edited by A. Bogoslovsky and E. Menegal’do (Moscow, 1996), pp. 26-52. Page
references to this edition in the text or footnotes will be given as N. All translations are mine.

-73-

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