The Poem

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

Andrei Voznesensky’s “Foggy Street” is a thirty-line rhymed poem reflecting the poet’s concern with loss of identity and his fascination with ambiguity. In “Foggy Street” time, space, and identity have blurred to the point of disintegration, but the poet’s treatment is occasionally light and humorous so that the overall effect is paradoxical.

In the opening lines, Voznesensky establishes the atmosphere, a foggy street on which the only discernible figures are police officers. The fog, both literal and figurative, so disorients the narrator that he is unable to determine even the period he is living in: “What century is it? What era? I forget.” The poet’s attempts to describe this oblique world take up the body of the poem. The poetic landscape, presented through a mosaic of images and comparisons, is by turns nightmarish and amusing, romantic and absurd.

The second stanza introduces images of general disintegration: “everything is crumbling,” and “nothing’s intact.” The people whom the poet encounters are undifferentiated, but at the same time unconnected. This series of vague but unsettling images breaks off to be replaced by a more precise and less unpleasant one of the poet “flounder[ing] in cotton wool.” Although the poet continues to stumble through the fog and his vision remains blurred, the language with which he describes the scene in the third stanza becomes more concrete; he begins to pick out a few...

(The entire section is 465 words.)