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Selected Poems

Nikolai Zabolotsky

Translated by Daniel Weissbort

Cover Picture of Selected Poems
Categories: Russian
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
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  • 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.

    , 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.

    Nikolai Zabolotsky
    Nikolay Alekseyevich Zabolotsky (1903-1958), poet, children’s writer and translator, was born into a family that had only just risen above its peasant origins: his father was a local agronomist (agricultural adviser) and his mother had been a schoolteacher. He grew up in the village of Sernur and the small town of ... read more
    Daniel Weissbort
    Daniel Weissbort was born in 1935. He read History at Cambridge and did postgraduate work in the politics of literature during the post-Stalin period. He has translated many modern Russian poets, including Nikolai Zabolotsky and Yunna Morits. He edited Ted Hughes: Selected Translations (2006). He is Emeritus Professor of English and ... read more
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