November 01, 2000

The Last Romantic


“Critics make me laugh: sixteen years after Blok’s death, thirty or more years after the first decade of his work in literature, of course, all you have to do is to take his books, read them and if you’re not an utter fool, you’ll get a fair idea of his line of thought from one stage to the next and which moods and ideologies of which social and literary groups conditioned his thinking ... But that is all too easy, comrade critic ... because when you talk about the beginning you have in mind the finished product, you already know how it will end. Every schoolboy knows nowadays that The Twelve was the crowning achievement of Blok’s life and works. But when Blok was writing his first poem, he neither knew what the second would be like, nor what lay beyond that ... I remember clearly how stung I was by the unexpectedness of the first poems Blok ever showed me in 1901 ... It is one thing to write verses on a given theme, to have a talent for seeking out the most suitable form—critics evidently think that’s what Blok did. It’s quite another to listen for the echo of the sound or voice of the world, revealed to the poet in its own singing element and as a song striking up from within his soul, or from without, which—Blok never knew.

After all, there is a difference between the poet and you and me, comrade?”

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