Gumilev, Nikolai Stepanovich

Gumilev, Nikolai Stepanovich

(nyĭkəlī` styĭpä`nəvĭch go͞omēlyôf`), 1886–1921, Russian poet. With his wife, the poet Anna AkhmatovaAkhmatova, Anna
, pseud. of Anna Andreyevna Gorenko
, 1888–1966, Russian poet of the Acmeist school. Her brief lyrics, simply and musically written in the tradition of Pushkin, attained great popularity. Her themes were personal, emotional, and often ironic.
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, and Gorodetsky Gumilev, he founded the AcmeistAcmeists
, school of Russian poets started in 1912 by Sergei M. Gorodetsky and Nikolai Stepanovich Gumilev as a reaction against the mysticism of the symbolists. The school aspired to concreteness of imagery and clarity of expression.
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 school of poetry in 1912. He traveled widely in Europe and, especially, in Africa, and his poetic imagery is enhanced by the frequent use of foreign and exotic elements. The Pillar of Fire (1921) contains much of his best work. Gumilev was executed by the Bolsheviks for alleged conspiratorial activities.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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.


Blok, A. “Bez bozhestva, bez vdokhnoven’ia.” Sobr. soch., vol. 6. Moscow-Leningrad, 1962.
Orlov, VI. “Na rubezhe dvukh epokh. (Iz. istorii russkoi poezii nachala nashego veka.)” Voprosy literatury, 1966, no. 10.
Istoriia russkoi literatury kontsa XIX-nachala XX veka: Bibliografich. ukazatel’. Moscow-Leningrad, 1963.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.