The Garden: New and Selected Poetry and Prose Critical Essays

Bella Akhmadulina


(Masterpieces of Women's Literature)

Akhmadulina’s poetry displays several distinct features. First, there is a broad range of themes and approaches, ranging from expressing her innermost feelings to showing concern for fellow human beings, especially the sufferers; from her own secluded world to her relationship with other Russian poets; and from a serious, almost classical approach to poetry to the idiosyncratic and whimsical demeanor that is sometimes “recklessly gay, drunk with the joy of life, impetuously kittenish, and even slightly silly,” in the words of critic Deming Brown. Yet, she succeeds in striking a balance between her personal preoccupations and her concern for the outside world.

Her lyricism is genuine and intense. Whether stemming from her pronounced femininity, from high emotionality, or from a vulnerability that derives from her intuitive realization of the basically tragic nature of being, her delicately musical lyricism gives the body of her poetry an additional dimension and luster.

Akhmadulina’s spiritual vision is another dimension. She is not only a poet but also an individual fully aware of all people’s spiritual needs. When spiritual life is lacking or suppressed, she told The Harvard Advocate in May, 1988, “people turn to the poet as confessor and priest. . . . People seek something lofty, something spiritual. And that’s why people are always striving for what’s beautiful, lofty, musical.” This spiritual vision is woven into...

(The entire section is 540 words.)