Nikolay Nekrasov

November 22, 1821 - January 8, 1878

Nikolay Nekrasov, one of Russian poetry's most eloquent voices, became a successful publisher and author of some of the most mellifluent verses about women. Nekrasov, being the most influential literary entrepreneur of the day, assembled works ranging from ethnography to fiction to literary criticism, all written by leading authors and thinkers of the time. He is also well remembered as the long-standing publisher of the almanac, “Sovremennik” (The Contemporary) from 1846 to 1866. The journal was shut down by the government in connection with the arrest of its radical editor Chernyshevsky.
Nekrasov was born into the family of a petty Russian officer. His mother, Aleksandra Zakrevska, was from Warsaw and belonged to the Polish gentry. She was well-educated and her parents were against her marriage to a poor and uneducated officer. Their marriage was not a happy one.
Nikolay was abused by his tyrannical father. His father’s drunken rages against both his serfs and his wife determined the subject matter of Nekrasov's major poems—a verse portrayal of the plight of the Russian peasant, using his language and ideas. Thanks to his mother's love and support, young Nekrasov managed to survive through the traumatic experiences of his childhood and youth. Nekrasov admired his mother and expressed his love and empathy to all women through his poetry. As he grew up on his father's estate, Greshnevo, in the Yaroslavl province, near the banks of the Volga River, he was also able to observe the hard labor of the Russian barge haulers.
Read more in RT .

On the Day of Gogol's Death
(How blessed's the good-natured poet ...)

How blessed's the good-natured poet,
With little bile and much emotion:
All lovers of the gentle arts
Send him sincerest greetings;

The admiration of the crowd
Sounds in his ear like rippling waves;
He is a stranger to self-doubt-
That torture of creative souls;

Lover of comfort and tranquility,
Shunning audacious satire,
He firmly dominates the crowd
With his peace-loving lyre.

He is not cursed nor driven out
But worshipped for his splendid mind,
While all his countrymen prepare
A monument to him in life.

But fate will show no mercy
To one whose noble genius
Has led him to unmask the crowd,
Expose its passions and mistakes.

His heart abrim with hate
His lips all clad in satire,
He wanders down a thorny path
His wrathful lyre in hand.

He is reviled at every step:
He catches sounds of admiration
Not in sweet murmurings of praise
But in wild cries of enmity.

With disbelief and new belief
In his high calling's dream,
He preaches love to all
Through venomous denial.

His speech's every syllable
Engenders for him cruel foes,
And all men, whether smart or dull,
Are quick to vilify him.

They curse at him from every side,
And only when they see his corpse
They'll understand how much he did,
And that in hate, he was yet full of love!

© A. Wachtel, I. Kutik and M. Denner


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