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Translated by Daniel Weissbort
RRP: GBP£ 12.95
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Price: GBP£ 11.65
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ISBN: 978 1 857544 03 9
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: April 1999
215 x 135 x 18 mm
Publisher: Carcanet Press
We paint the shapes of beasts
and scenes from the lives of plants.
Instead of the Madonna,
a cow, reading a textbook on Butter Manufacturing,
will shine above the infant's bed...
from 'The School of Beetles'
This is the first representative English selection of work by Nikolay Alekseycvlch Zabolotsky (1903-1958), 'everybody's favourite poet in Russia', coming a few paces behind Akhmatova, Pasternak, Mandelshtam and Tsvetaeva.
Why has he not been amply translated before? He did not spring from the intelligentsia but was of peasant stock. His early phantasmagoric poems about Petersburg led to a larger poetry exploring man's place in nature. An idealist of revolution, his ecological millennialism is relevant, both in and outside the former Soviet empire.
His formalism, not his brand of socialism, made him a victim of the Stalinist purges. His long poem 'Agriculture Triumphant' set out to validate collectivisation but was read as an absurdist satire. In 1938 he was imprisoned, tortured and given a five year Gulag sentence. He was not released until after the war. In the 1950s he started to write again with the earlier intensity. His work, from early avant-garde pieces to the later classical lyrics, is unified: the poems add up to an epic about man's place in the scheme of creation.
DANIEL WEISSBORT, founder-editor of Modern Poetry in Translation, is our leading anthologist, translator and critic of Russian poetry. He is a poet in his own right. Nietzsehe's Attache Case was published by Carcanet in 1993.
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