Nikolai Aseev

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Aseev, Nikolai Nikolaevich

 

Born June 27 (July 9), 1889, in L’gov; died July 16, 1963, in Moscow. Soviet Russian poet. Born into the family of an insurance agent.

Aseev spent his childhood in the home of his grandfather, who was a hunter and an expert on nature and folklore. He studied at the Moscow Commercial Institute (1909–12) and in the philological departments of Moscow University and the University of Kharkov. He was first published in 1913, and his first collection, Nocturnal Flute (1914), was influenced by symbolist poetry. His familiarity with the works of V. V. Khlebnikov and his enthusiasm for ancient Slavic folklore influenced the collections Zor (1914) and Letorei (1915). Artistic contact with V. V. Mayakovsky (starting in 1913) helped mold Aseev’s talent. During the Civil War, Aseev found himself in the Far East; in 1922 he moved to Moscow. Revolutionary motifs became stronger in his poetry (the collection The Bomb, 1921). “The March of Budennyi,” from the poem “Budennyi” (1922), became a popular song (music by A. A. Davidenko). Beginning in 1923, Aseev participated in the literary group LEF. The poems “Sverdlovsk Storm” (1924) and “Semen Proskakov” (1928), poems about revolutionaries (“Blue Hussars,” 1926; “Chernyshevskii,” 1929), and poems about commissars from Baku (“The Twenty-six,” 1925) are filled with revolutionary and romantic pathos. The image of V. I. Lenin is created in “The Russian Fairy Tale” (1926).

Motifs of the youthfulness of the new world and the image of time flying by are at the center of Aseev’s poetry (the collections The Time of the Best, 1927; Young Poems, 1928; The Moscow Song, 1934; High Mountain Poems, 1938). In the poem “Mayakovsky Begins” (1940; State Prize of the USSR, 1941), diaristic elements are combined with lyrical publicism. The collections The First Platoon (1941) and The Flame of Victory (1946) were written in response to the events of the Great Patriotic War. The books of poems Meditations (1955) and Harmony (1961) are outstanding for their lyrical and philosophical reflections about the historical destiny of the 20th century. In the poetry of Aseev, which is essentially lyrical and melodic, songlike and oratorical intonations are fused. In creating poetic images Aseev usually starts with the aural, phonetic association which deepens the meaning of the word. Aseev’s poetry is significant for its optimism, its glorification of exploits performed in the name of the revolution, and its glorification of youth and spiritual well-being. He is the author of the books The Beautiful Girl Without Her Makeup (1928), Diary of a Poet (1929), Working on Poetry (1929), The Prose of the Poet (1930), and Who Needs Poetry and Why (1961). Aseev was awarded the Order of Lenin, the Order of the Red Banner of Labor, and a medal.

WORKS

Sobr. soch., vols. 1–5. Moscow, 1963—64.
Stikhotvoreniia i poemy, vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1959.
Lad: Stikhi poslednikh let, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1963.
Stikhotvoreniia. Moscow, 1967.

REFERENCES

Selivanovskii, A. P. “Nikolai Aseev.” In V literaturnykh boiakh. Moscow, 1959.
Sarnov, B. M. “N. N. Aseev.” In Istoriia russkoi sovetskoi literatury, vol. 2. Moscow, 1960.
Tarasenkov, An. Russkie poety 20 v. 1900–1955: Bibliografiia. Moscow, 1966.

S. S. LESNEVSKII