Sergei Alexandrovich Yesenin (1895-1925) is a favourite poet of many Russian and foreign lovers of poetry, according to a survey of the Russian Institute for Social and National Problems. He is recognized as the first among writers and poets of the XX century. "Sergei Yesenin is Pushkin of the XX century", wrote the poetess Larisa Vasilyeva.
The life of Sergei Yesenin is closely related to Ryazan and its land. He was born on September 21 (October 3), 1895, into a peasant family in Konstantinovo village, Ryazan District (now Rybnovsky District), Ryazan Province. The poet spent his childhood in Konstantinovo, where his way to school was laid through "the dawns and the stars". In Konstantinovo he attended the four-year zemstvo school. In 1909, he graduated with an honorary certificate.
In the same year, the future poet went on to study in the local secondary parochial school in Spas-Klepiki. Here Sergei Yesenin found a true friend - Grisha Panfilov, who influenced much on his spiritual formation, whom he called the "light" of his life. Here the future poet created the first poems, including the Stars poem, which amazed the literature teacher E. M. Khitrov, who said that it was worth publishing.
In 1912, with a teacher’s diploma, Sergei Yesenin came to Ryazan, where he wanted to issue a handwritten collection of his poems entitled Bolnye Dumy (Sick Thoughts), but Ryazan publishers did not support him.
The same year, he came to Moscow. He took a position of a proofreader's assistant at the Sytin's printing company. He enrolled in the Chanyavsky Moscow People's University, attended the Surikov literary and musical circle. According to Anna Izryadnova, whom the poet met in 1913, he "read all his spare time, spent his salary on books and magazines".
The first publications of Sergei Yesenin's poems were issued in 1914. He signed the poem Beryoza (The Birch Tree) with the pseudonym Ariston, but later signed his verses with his real name.
On March 9, 1915, Sergei Yesenin met Alexander Blok. It was the beginning of his literary journey. Blok gave him a letter of recommendation to Sergei Gorodetsky, which promoted him to meet the poet Nikolai Klyuev.
In 1916, the first collection of poems Radunitsa was published, in which Sergey Yesenin assert themselves in full. Goy You, Russia, my Dear; In the Hut; Trinity; Play, Play, Talianochka; On the Lake; The Cherry Drops the Snow - these and other verses are included in the book. They reflect the most important features of Yesenin's lyrics: sincere love for Russia and native Ryazan Кegion, a sense of at-oneness with the universe.
The poem Song of Evpatiy Kolovrat, devoted to the feat of the Ryazan governor, belongs to the early period of his oeuvre. Working on it, Sergei Yesenin applied to the monument of ancient Russian literature The Tale of the Ryazan Destruction by Batu, widely used folk tales, legends and traditions of his Motherland.
In 1916, Sergei Yesenin was drafted for military duty, but did not participate in hostilities - he served as a medical orderly in Tsarskoye Selo. Soon after the February revolution, which he met "...sympathetically, but rather spontaneously than consciously", he left the army and went home. During this period he created a cycle of poems Comrade, Singing Call, Father and Oktoikh, shaping the image of the revolution.
In the summer and autumn of 1917, in the spring and summer of 1918, he visited his native village. The impressions of this period are reflected in the Anna Snegina poem, small poems The Jordanian Dove, Sorokoust and others.
In the summer of 1917, Sergei Yesenin married Zinaida Reich. In 1918, along with wife, he moved from Petrograd to Moscow. Here he prepared for publication the collections of poems Dove, Transfiguration and Rural Hours and wrote a theoretical treatise The Keys of Maria.
The same year, Sergei Yesenin, together with the poets Anatoly Mariengof, Vadim Shershenevich and Rurik Ivnev, created a new school of poetry - Imagism. But his alliance with the imagists, who placed the artistic image at the top of poetry, did not last long. Sergei Yesenin was far from the formalistic tricks of the Imagists. The essence of his lyrics was the theme of Russia. "The feeling of Motherland is the main thing in my work", wrote Sergei Yesenin.
In 1921, he left Moscow for Central Asia and the Volga Region. During the trip, the poet concluded the Pugachev poem.
In the autumn of the same year, Sergei Yesenin met the American dancer Isadora Duncan, who came to Russia on tour. They married in the spring of 1922. Soon, the couple went abroad: the poet decided to accompany his wife on a tour around Western Europe and the USA. They visited Germany, Belgium, France, Italy, America. During the journey, Sergei Yesenin worked on the poems Land of Scoundrels and The Black Man. In 1922, in Berlin, he published the first volume of the Collection of Poems and Verses, which included a significant part of the poet's work by that time (the second volume was not issued). Soon after returning to the Soviet Union in 1923, the couple parted.
During Yesenin's foreign journey, his father's house burned down in his native village of Konstantinovo. The poet tried to restore it. He appealed to the Ryazan authorities with a proposal to organize an evening of his poetry giving royalties to his parents.
In 1924-1925, Sergei Yesenin came to his native village again. Here he created the poems Return to Motherland; The Golden Grove; A Low House with Blue Shutters; It Seems that it is Established Forever; A Poem about 36. These visits inspired him to create other works as This Sadness Cannot Be Concealed Now; I Will not Return to My Father's house; I Am Walking in the Valley, Feather Grass is Sleeping. Dear Plain; Play, Talianka, Loud, Play, Talianka, Boldly.
New impressions of the village reviving after the revolutionary shock and the civil war were reflected in the small poems Soviet Russia; Russia Leaving; Return to Motherland; My Way.
In September 1924, Sergei Yesenin visited the Transcaucasian republics. Within six months he wrote The Ballad of Twenty-six, the poems A Letter to a Woman; My Way; Captain of the Earth; Russia Leaving; Russia Homeless; Flowers; In Memory of Bryusov and, started working on a poem Anna Snegina.
During the last year of his life, Sergei Yesenin compiled a three-volume Collected Poems. These volumes "with birches" were published in 1926. They included all the poems in the author's edition without censorship.
Sergei Yesenin "suffered family disorder, lack of his own corner", wrote poet's sister Alexandra Alexandrovna. In 1925, he met Leo Tolstoy's granddaughter, Sophia Tolstaya, and a few months later they got married. But the poet divorced her six months later.
By the middle of 1925, Yesenin's fruitful creative period was replaced by a mental crisis. The poet was treated at a psychoneurologic clinic, where he continued to work. Here he wrote the poems Do not Look at me with Reproach; You Don’t Love Me, You Don’t Regret; Maybe Late, maybe Too Early; Who Am I? What Am I? Only a Pretender. Without completing the treatment course, Sergei Yesenin decided to make a clean break with the past and left for Leningrad. However, he could not find peace because old friends repeatedly visited him.
In September 1925, he visited his Motherland, which used to be his meaning of life and the main source of inspiration, for the last time.
On November 14, 1925, the poet completed The Black Man poem. He had a month and a half to live. His life tragically ended on the night of December 27-28. Sergei Yesenin was buried at the Vagankovsky cemetery in Moscow.
Many places in Ryazan Region are associated with the life of Sergei Yesenin. All admirers of his talent are attracted by the poet's Motherland - Konstantinovo, most of all. The memorial House-Museum was opened here in 1965. Since 1984, it is entitled the Sergei Yesenin State Museum-Reserve. Today the museum celebrates its 55th anniversary. It is the pride of Ryazan Region, one of the centres of culture and the most important tourist attraction.
Lit.: Есенин Сергей Александрович (1895–1925). Полное собрание сочинений: в 7 т. / гл. ред. Ю. Л. Прокушев; Ин-т мировой лит. им. А. М. Горького, Рос. акад. наук. М., 2015; Летопись жизни и творчества С. А. Есенина: в 5 т. / осн. проекта Ю. Л. Прокушев; гл. ред. Н. И. Шубникова-Гусева; Рос. акад. наук, Ин-т мировой лит. им. А. М. Горького. М., 2003-2013; Меркулов В. В. С. А. Есенин. Литература о жизни и творчестве, 1921–2014 гг.: библиографический справочник / В. В. Меркулов. Ногинск, 2014; Прилепин З. Есенин: Обещая встречу впереди. М., 2020; Прокушев Ю. Л. Сергей Есенин: Образ. Стихи. Эпоха. М., 1989; Прокушев Ю. Л. Есенин – это Россия: Очерки. Публикации. Выступления. Интервью. Из архива автора. М., 2002; Силкан Д. Сергей Есенин. Навсегда остался я поэтом: интервью современных исследователей и литераторов. М., 2019.
From the Presidential library materials:
Воронова О. Е. Сергей Александрович Есенин в диалоге культур: [видеолекция] / Воронова Ольга Ефимовна, доктор филологических наук, профессор, руководитель Есенинского научного центра Рязанского государственного университета имени С. А. Есенина, член Союза писателей России