The Poets

November 16, 2012

Blok on the Muse

I mentioned recently how impressive a breed of poets these Russian symbolists were, and named a few. Among those named was Aleksandr Blok, a poet that I’ve now known for some time, and the first Russian symbolist I came to study.

Now although I consider Tyutchev
the best of these symbolists- indeed, one of the best poets ever- Blok and his incredibly imaginative works hold a high and privileged place with me. His poetry seems, at times, irrationally defiant and recklessly counterintuitive (To the Muse); and yet at other times his poems gleam of loftiness and holiness and divinity (I Seek Salvation).

Take the poem below … it’s about the Muse- that mythological deity who inspires within the human spirit passionate movements of creativity and the apperception of the sublime and beautiful. This poem depicts her as an irresistible addiction that, once consumed by, causes one to trample on and desecrate sacred traditions and holy things (not at all the idea of her that the Greeks held).

Check it …

To the Muse 

In your hidden memories
There are fatal tidings of doom...
A curse on sacred traditions,
A desecration of happiness;

And a power so alluring
That I am ready to repeat the rumour
That you have brought angels down from heaven,
Enticing them with your beauty...

And when you mock at faith,
That pale, greyish-purple halo
Which I once saw before
Suddenly begins to shine above you.

Are you evil or good? You are altogether from another world
They say strange things about you
For some you are the Muse and a miracle.
For me you are torment and hell.

I do not know why in the hour of dawn,
When no strength was left to me,
I did not perish, but caught sight of your face
And begged you to comfort me.

I wanted us to be enemies;
Why then did you make me a present
Of a flowery meadow and of the starry firmament --
The whole curse of your beauty?

Your fearful caresses were more treacherous
Than the northern night,
More intoxicating than the golden champagne of Aï,
Briefer than a gypsy woman's love...

And there was a fatal pleasure
In trampling on cherished and holy things;
And this passion, bitter as wormwood,
Was a frenzied delight for the heart!

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