Sasha Chorny

Poems by Sasha Chorny

Chorny (Aleksandr Mikhailovich Glikberg) was the son of a provincial pharmacist. His poetry, which appeared in the magazine Satirikon from 1908 to 1911, displays a brilliant satirical gift and is bitingly contemptuous of the hypocrisy of bourgeois society. Clearly, Vladimir Mayakovsky learned much from him; some of their poems are similar, not only in intonation, but even in form.

In 1920 Chorny emigrated to Vilnius and then to Berlin and Paris, where he continued to write and to engage in publishing. He died after straining his heart while helping his neighbors put out a fire.

Chorny’s poetry was not published in the USSR from 1925 to 1960, with the exception of some of his collection of poems for children. His greatest posthumous recognition came through Dmitri Shostakovich’s composition Satires (1960) for soprano voice and piano, which was based on a cycle of five of his poems. We recognize some intonations and reflections of Chorny in the post-perestroika generation, full of bitter irony and scepticism.