Gumilev, Nikolai

Gumilev, Nikolai Stepanovich


Born Apr. 3 (15), 1886, in Kronstadt; died Aug. 24, 1921, in Petrograd. Russian poet.

Gumilev first published his works in 1902. He began as a student of the symbolists, particularly of V. Ia. Briusov. In 1911 he organized the Poets’ Guild, a literary group. In 1913, with S. Gorodetskii, he proclaimed the literary doctrine of acmeism. Gumilev traveled extensively, visiting Africa three times. He was infatuated with the East. His major books of verse are The Path of the Conquistadores (1905), Romantic Flowers (1908), Pearls (1910), Foreign Sky (1912), Quiver (1916), The Pyre (1918), Tent (1921), and Pillar of Fire (1921). He is the author of The Palm’s Shadow (1922), a collection of short stories, Letters on Russian Poetry (1923), a collection of criticism, and translations of the Babylonian epic Gil-gamesh, of English and French folk songs, and of the works of Voltaire, T. Gautier, S. Coleridge, R. Southey, O. Wilde, and H. Heine.

He joined the fighting at the front in 1914. In October 1917 he was in France with the Russian Expeditionary Corps and returned to Petrograd the following year. He participated in the work of the Vsemirnaia Literatura Publishing House and taught courses in poetry. Gumilev created new rhythms; his verse was colorful and had a proud, lofty tone. The exotic quality of the poetry, the theme of withdrawal from contemporary reality, and the cult of power and will are the weaknesses of his verse. Gumilev did not accept the revolution and took part in a counterrevolutionary conspiracy; he was shot with the other participants.


Stikhotvoreniia: Posmertnyi sbornik, 2nd ed. Petrograd, 1923.


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