Sergei Esenin Analysis

Other literary forms

(World Poets and Poetry)

Sergei Esenin (yihs-YAYN-yihn) wrote little besides poetry. Some autobiographical introductions and a few revealing letters are helpful in analyzing his poetry. The short story “Bobyl i druzhok” and the tale “Yar” are rarely mentioned in critical discussion of Esenin’s work, but his theoretical treatise “Kliuchi Marii” (1918; the keys of Mary) helps to explain his early revolutionary lyrics. This economically written, perceptive study traces the religious origins of various aspects of ancient Russian culture and art.


(World Poets and Poetry)

Perhaps the most controversial of all Soviet poets, Sergei Esenin is certainly also one of the most popular, among both Russian émigrés and citizens. The popularity of his poetry never diminished in Russia, despite a period of twenty-five years during which his work was suppressed and his character defamed. Officially, Esenin was labeled the Father of Hooliganism, and his works were removed from public libraries and reading rooms. In the early 1950’s, however, his reputation was fully rehabilitated, and his poems have become widely available in Russia. In the twenty-first century, Esenin rivals Aleksandr Blok,Vladimir Mayakovsky, and even Alexander Pushkin as the most popular of all Russian poets.

Although Esenin welcomed and supported the 1917 October Revolution, he soon began to have second thoughts. He did not like the transformation that was taking place in the rural areas, and he longed for the traditional simple peasant life and the old “wooden Russia.” His flamboyant lifestyle, his alcoholism, and his dramatic suicide eventually brought him the scorn of the Soviet authorities.

The most important representative of the Imaginist movement in Russian poetry, Esenin at his best achieved a distinctive blend of deep lyricism, sincerity, melancholy, and nostalgia. Calling himself “the last poet of the village,” Esenin used folk and religious motifs, images of nature, and colorful scenes from everyday village life, which he painted with a natural freshness and beauty. His disappointment with his own life, his unhappy marriages, and his apprehensions concerning the changes he saw at every hand—all are reflected in the mood of unfulfilled hope and sadness that pervades his poetry.


(World Poets and Poetry)

Brengauz, Gregory. Yesenin: Lyrics and Life—Introduction to Russian Poetry. 2d ed. Tallahassee: Floridian Publisher, 2006. This biography, in Russian and English, looks at Esenin’s life and works.

Davis, J. Esenin: A Biography in Memoirs, Letters, and Documents. Ann Arbor, Mich.: Ardis, 1982. Davis culls the autobiographical material from the poet’s work and complements it with biographical commentaries, shedding light on various aspects of Esenin’s life. These materials, in turn, shed light on his poetry.

De Graaff, Frances. Sergei Esenin: A Biographical Sketch. The Hague, the Netherlands: Mouton, 1966. In his valuable study of Esenin’s life and poetry, De Graaff combines biography with the poet’s works, bolstering his observations with citations from many poems, in Russian and English. Includes an extensive bibliography.

Esenin, Sergei. Complete Poetical Works in English. Translated by Victoria Bul. Tallahassee: Floridian Publisher, 2008. Contains an introduction and biography by the translator, poems by poets who influenced or were influenced by Esenin, and a section of Isadora Duncan’s autobiography.

McVay, Gordon. Esenin: A Life. Ann Arbor, Mich.: Ardis, 1976. In this definitive biography of Esenin in English, the author encompasses the poet’s...

(The entire section is 418 words.)