Themes and Meanings

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

As Voznesensky skillfully demonstrates with “The Last Train to Malakhovka,” the meaning of his work reaches outside of the boundary of a single poem. His individual poems function as discrete units, but they are interconnected, and meaning expands from specific to general. Not surprisingly then, the poet’s particular concern with the sexual objectification of women, reflected in his sympathetic treatment of the young girl in “The Last Train to Malakhovka,” is but one manifestation of what he views as a general depersonalization afflicting all who live in technologically advanced societies. In this poem, as in much of his other work, trains represent the ill effects of mechanization, speeding in a single, predetermined direction, physically separating humans from the natural world and from one another, and finally threatening individual identity. Images of separation and fragmentation abound: the segregation of passengers, the failure of the poet to gain the attention of the young men, the namelessness and facelessness of the young woman. It is this fragmentation, however, not human nature itself, that accounts for the asocial behavior of the young men on the train, their potential for violence, and their disregard for others.

In spite of the sordid world and sorry beings he depicts in poems such as “The Last Train to Malakhovka,” Voznesensky seems to believe that humans are essentially good and that poetry can reveal that goodness. Poetry...

(The entire section is 419 words.)