Daniil Kharms

Poems by Daniil Kharms

Kharms's true surname was Yuvachov, but he is universally known by his pseudonym, which reportedly refers to the English word harm. With Aleksandr Vvedensky and Nikolay Zabolotsky he was one of the founders of the Leningrad group OBERIU (Union of Realistic Art). Absurdism was the group's answer to the proletarian realism that grew into the Socialist Realism endorsed by Stalin. Latching on to the derisive protest hidden inside poetic estrangement from official Realism, ideological witch-hunters pounced on this group of writers, and Oberiut's public appearances were essentially forbidden after April 1930. Kharms's play Elizaveta Bam had been sharply criticized in 1928; his writing makes use of absurd fantasy, bizarre transformations, contradictions, and negations of logical connections.

For a short time, Kharms and Vvedensky found refuge in children's poetry with the help of Samuel Marshak, while their adult poetry circulated in manuscript form. Vvedensky was arrested in 1932, Zabolotsky in 1938, and Kharms in 1941. Only Zabolotsky managed to survive and witness his own later fame. Kharms and Vvedensky have proven to be, as has no one else, the closest to the nightmarish, mad world of their own times and generation; coming of age in an era of stagnation is a kind of absurdity.

1926

1928

1930

1931

1933

1934

1936

1937

1939

1940

in french

Daniil Harms, des poèmes (français)

1937

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