Modern Russian Poetry/Yakov Polonsky

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Yakov Polonsky

(1819-1898)


The routine of Polonsky's uneventful life was compounded of teaching, editorial work and long years of service in the censorship department. It is true that he traveled abroad and spent some years in the Caucasus, but this did not interrupt the even tenor of his ways.

He was a prolific fiction writer, yet it is as a poet that he lives in the memory of his compatriots. His poetry itself has been charged with being "lukewarm and neither cold nor hot." It lacks, it has been said, that cosmic nostalgia and civic consciousness which belong to Russian poetry. Indeed Polonsky's poetic effigy is rather unheroic and indistinct in outline. Yet he has the virtues of his defects. His work is distinguished by its homeliness. It keeps to the lighted circle of our familiar and familial life, and foregoes power and passion for intimacy and charm.