Composition Strategies of Some Poems by Vladislav Xodasevič

Milla Fedorova, Independent Scholar

The paper will focus on the connection between formal and semantic aspects of composition of poems by Vladislav Xodasevič. The analyses of the large group of poems based on sonnet structure (Thesis – Antithesis – Synthesis) will be provided (“Putem zerna” (1917), “Gorit zvezda, drožit čfir…” (1921), “Igraju v karty, p’ju vino…” (1922), “Akrobat” (1921), “Bez slov” (1918), “Avtomobil’” (1921), “Ni žit’, ni pet’ počti ne stoit…” (1921), and others). Sometimes the sonnet triad is reduced if antithesis is combined with synthesis (“Probočka” (1921) “Stansy” (“Byvalo, dumal: radi miga…” –1922) “Perešagni, pereskoči…” (1922)).

In the first part of these poems the author is constructing a world (often it’s a kind of toy, small, house world – toy shop, a picture on a match box, in which the poet acts as Creator), and in the concluding stanza is deconstructing it. The antithesis can be based on another version of events or another point of their interpretation, or just negation of what has been declared; artificial features of the created world are emphasized. In the poem “Gorit zvezda, drožit čfir…” this construction – deconstruction principle is formulated explicitly: “I razrušaju vdrug šutya / Vsju čtu pyšnuju nelepost’, / Kak rušit maloe ditja / Iz kart postroennuju krepost’”. On the formal, grammar level it is marked by conjunctions (”no net,” “ili,” “a esli”) or opposite constructions (“byvalo – teper’”). Synthesis is achieved by transferring the cycle of lyrical action to a new semantic level: an unexpected powerful sharp twist turns the whole poem into an allegory, the meaning of which is revealed only now (“Poet, proxodi s bezučastnym licom: / Ty sam ne takim li živeš’ remeslom” – “Akrobat”; “Tak vot i duša nezrimo / Zžet i raz”edaet telo» – “Probočka”).This can be achieved either by reducing the pathos of the first part of the poem (“Perešagni, pereskoči…”) or escalating it (”Putem zerna”).

In the paper we will analyze the poem “Iz okna” -1 (“Nynče den’ takoj zabavnyj…” - 1921), which illustrates the sonnet composition principle, turning it over at the same time: deconstruction of the world is made in the first part, and in the second the balance is restored, but turns out to be a hell (“Vosstaet moj tixij ad / V strojnosti pervonačal’noj”) – this ending provides the synthetic compositional turn, sheds light on interpretation of the whole poem.

Analyzing Xodasevič’s composition strategies we will demonstrate the connection between the composition of the poems and his philosophy: for Xodasevič the «other» world, deviation from routine, from common order (“raskačka, vyvorot, beda”) is desirable; the unity of oppositions, co-existence of antagonist points of view is significant, and this synthetic image of the world is reflected in the poem’s structure.