Mikhail Kuzmin

Poems by Mikhail Kuzmin

Kuzmin, born into a noble family, received a musical education from the St. Petersburg Conservatory, studying composition under Rimsky-Korsakoff and often singing the master’s verses at the piano in artistic clubs. An exotic flower of Russian poetry, Kuzmin is like an Egyptian lotus grown on Yaroslavl soil. His creativity is characterized by a striking theatricality and languid grace. This grace at times obtains true beauty in words that his great contemporaries valued highly. Kuzmin’s verse is an inimitably colored tile in the poetic mosaic of his time; sometimes even a semiprecious stone can glimmer with precious reflections when a ray of light falls on it.

In his youth Kuzmin made pilgrimages with Old Believers, traveling to Italy and Egypt. His most celebrated work. Songs of Alexandria (1921), is a collection of love songs with homosexual undertones written in free verse. He produced erotic novels such as Kryl’ia (Wings) (1907) in defense of homosexual love and other novels portraying the adulteries of the bohemian world of St. Petersburg. Though uninterested in founding a literary movement or organization, he nonetheless helped lay the theoretical groundwork for the movement away from Symbolism with his programmatic article “On Beautiful Clarity.”

After the Revolution Kuzmin remained in Petrograd but distanced himself from all political events. He continued to publish until 1929, when he began to be excluded from literary life and turned exclusively to translation. He died in poverty.

1906

1907

1908

1911

1915

1916

1917

1921

1922

1923

in dutch

Michail Koezmin (nederlands)

1922