The Versification of Joseph Brodsky, 1990-1992

By Smith, G. S. | The Modern Language Review, July 2002 | Go to article overview

The Versification of Joseph Brodsky, 1990-1992


Smith, G. S., The Modern Language Review


It has long been understood that for the formal articulation of the poetry he composed after he was compelled to leave Russia in 1972, Joseph Brodsky (1940-96) soon developed a distinctive selection of metrical resources. (1) They included first and foremost the dol'nik as the principal metrical group instead of the binary and ternary metres that were (and are) still being used in the bulk of their work by the majority of Russian poets, (2) and within that group, by Brodsky's use of longer lines than average, in sequences that lack strict regulation. (3) Meanwhile, he continued to use rhyme and a broad range of stanza forms, as he had before 1972. Further research has shown that apart from rhyme and the stanza, Brodsky did not altogether abandon mainstream metrical resources as time went on; instead, he sometimes returned to the syllabo-tonic metres, never ceasing to experiment. (4) Consequently, in order to build up a comprehensive description of his formal development, it is expedient to analyse this development in short temporal segments, even year by year, paying detailed attention not only to metre, but also to other constituent levels of verse structure. The material studied in the present instance consists of the twenty-eight poems written or first published in the years 1990-92 inclusive. Analysis will employ the linguistic-statistical method and theoretical basis that have long been standard in academic research on Russian versification, modified where appropriate to take account of the particular features of the material. (5)

In the most complete edition of Brodsky's poetry to date, these poems form part of a larger section, which covers the years 1990-93. (6) To facilitate reference they have been numbered serially according to the order in which they stand in this edition. The poems will first be listed, giving serial number, title or first line, and page number in parenthesis: 1, 'Ne vazhno, chto bylo vokrug ...' (p. 81); 2, 'Vertumn' (pp. 82-90); 3, 'Angel' (p. 91); 4, 'Vot ia snova pod etim bestsvetnym nebom' (p. 92); 5, 'Metel' v Massachusetse' (pp. 93-94); 6, 'Mir sozdan byl iz smeshen'ia griazi ...' (p. 95); 7, 'Tsvety' (p. 96); 8, 'Sheimusu Khini' ('Ia prosnulsia ot krika chaek v Dubline') (p. 97); 9, 'Arkhitektura' (pp. 98-100); 10, 'Kappodokiia' (pp. 101-03); 11, 'Portret tragedii' (pp. 104-06); 12, 'Presepio' (p. 107); 13, 'Lido' (p. 108); 14, 'Nadpis'na knige' (p. 109); 15, 'Pis'mo v oazis (p. 110); 16, 'Posviash-chaetsia Dzhirolamo Marchello' (pp. 111-12); 17, 'Ty ne skazhesh' komaru' (p. 113); 18, 'Vid s kholma' (pp. 114-15); 19, 'Kolybel'naia' (pp. 116-17); 20, 'K peregovoram v Kabule' (pp. 118-19); 21, 'Mikhailu Baryshnikovu' (pp. 120-21); 22, 'Nariadu s otopleniem [...]' (p. 122); 23, 'Podruga, durneia litsom ...' (pp. 123-24); 24, 'Posleslovie k basne' (p. 125); 25, 'Priglashenie k puteshestviiu' (p. 126); 26, 'Provintsial'noe' (p. 127); 27, 'Snaruzhi temneet ...' (p. 128); 28, '--Chto ty delaesh', ptichka ...' (p. 129).

Certain important external factors condition the interpretation of Brodsky's work during this period. (7) First and foremost, he was now writing for a worldwide readership that included Russia. Hardly any of his original poetry had appeared in his native country before he left in 1972, and nothing whatsoever between that date and the end of 1987. For about two years, the publications were mainly retrospective, in a belated attempt to give the average Russian reader access to what was by then universally acknowledged to be the most important body of poetry created in the language during the second half of the twentieth century. From about 1990 Brodsky regularly published his new work in Russian serials and collections, and many of the poems of 1990 to 1992 first appeared in these sources. (8) In what way the collapse of the USSR at the end of 1991 made a difference to Brodsky's prospects and plans for publication in Russia remains to be investigated; it passed without any extensive comment in his poetry. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Versification of Joseph Brodsky, 1990-1992
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.