Apollon Maikov

Maikov, Apollon Nikolaevich


Born May 23 (June 4), 1821, in Moscow; died Mar. 8 (20), 1897, in St. Petersburg. Russian poet.

Maikov was the son of the academic painter N. A. Maikov and the brother of V. N. Maikov and L. N. Maikov. He graduated from the law department of St. Petersburg University in 1841. He worked in the library of the Rumiantsev Museum and, beginning in 1852, on the Committee of Foreign Censorship. Maikov began to publish as early as 1835. His first collection, Poems (1842), was received favorably by V. G. Belinskii. Maikov’s liberal views of the 1840’s (his narrative poems Two Fates, 1845, and Mashen’ka, 1846) were later replaced by conservative opinions (the poem “The Carriage,” 1854) and by Slavophile and Pan-Slavic ideas (the narrative poem Clairmont Cathedral, 1853). During the 1860’s, Maikov’s work met with severe criticism from the revolutionary democrats. Maikov’s aesthetic views also underwent a change; a brief interest in the natural school gave way to an active defense of “art for art’s sake.”

Maikov’s poetry deals with the world of culture. His interests include art (the cycle of poems In the Anthological Genre), European and Russian history (the verse cycles Centuries and Peoples and Echoes of History), the work of Western and Eastern poets, whose works Maikov translated and stylized (for example, his cycle Imitations of the Ancients). Maikov’s poems contain many mythological symbols and historical names; however, his vivid descriptions of other ages and peoples are often merely decorative. Maikov was particularly attracted to Greek and Roman culture, in which he saw a multitude of ideal forms of the beautiful. Outstanding in his voluminous legacy of verse, Maikov’s poems about Russian nature still preserve their poetic charm (“Spring! The First Window-frames Removed,” “In a Shower,” “Fishing,” and “Swallows”). Maikov also made a verse translation of The Tale of Igor’s Campaign (1866-70) and translated the poetry of Heine, Goethe, Longfellow, and Mickiewicz. Many of Maikov’s poems have been set to music (by Tchaikovsky and by Rimsky-Korsakov).


Izbr. proizv. [With an Introduction by N. L. Stepanov.] Leningrad, 1957.


Chernyshevskii, N. G. Poln. sobr. soch., vol. 2. Moscow, 1949. Pages 643-47.
Saltykov-Shchedrin, M. E. Sobr. soch., vol. 5. Moscow, 1966. Pages 424-35.