Military Review

Guns and muse. The turn of 1914 was fatal for both the empire and its culture.

Guns and muse. The turn of 1914 was fatal for both the empire and its culture.

The explosion of war could not but be reflected in Russian literature and, above all, in poetry. Perhaps the most famous lines related to the outbreak of the First World War belong to Anna Akhmatova: “And along the legendary embankment. Not the calendar was approaching, The real twentieth century ... ". There is a sense of anxiety, and a retrospective look with historical distance, from another era, after another war.

War is a huge event in the history of any nation, and it is not surprising that the artistic understanding of battle feats has become the foundation of world culture. After all, everything begins with an epic ... It is enough to recall Homer or the “Song of Roland”; let's turn to the East - and there we will find similar examples.

Military heroism pulsates in the history of Russian literature in bright flashes. At first - "The Word about Igor's Regiment" and "Zadonshchina", epic, and from the time of Peter the Great - odes, poems. How sincerely, in full voice, they glorified the victories of Catherine's times Derzhavin and Petrov! The whole anthology consisted of poems devoted to the Napoleonic wars, and above all - the 1812 campaign of the year. Among the authors of that time were the participants in the battles, and their younger contemporaries, the Pushkin generation.

Several majestic samples of heroics left the Crimean War. Tyutchev became a singer of that tragedy - a patriot adamant and thoughtful.
But here the glorification of the heroes of Sevastopol was combined with gloomy reflections: for the first time the empire of Peter the Great suffered a painful defeat. But since 1860-ies the spirit of heroics in Russian poetry has weakened. Why? There was a rift between the official ideology and the hobbies of an educated society, which turned into an abyss. Representatives of the new trends in literature were not the continuation of the Derzhavin, Pushkin or Tyutchev line in terms of attitude to the victories of the empire. Of course, there were enough skeptics in the old days. Suffice it to recall P.V. Vyazemsky, who in his youth constantly pulled Pushkin down for "chauvinism." But the same Vyazemsky in 1812-m rushed to defend the Fatherland! Simply, he treated the patriotic phrase with hostility and loved to be an adversary of the autocracy in his youth. It is curious that since 1850-s, the aged prince Vyazemsky looked with horror at the nihilism of the new time, while he himself switched to conservative positions, turned into a guardian of the empire. In any case, the anti-imperial positions of the young Vyazemsky in Nikolaev times were perceived as exotic. The voices of patriots sounded loudly - not careerists, but honest sons of the Fatherland ...

And the poets of the “Silver Age” were by their nature far from the traditions of statemanship. In their worlds, filled with "the three main elements of the new art: the mystical content, symbols and expansion of artistic impressionability" (DS Merezhkovsky), there was no place for the "low" truths of patriotism.

Influenced the general attitude and eccentric conflict with traditional Orthodoxy. To many oblige and frankopodobny image of the "accursed poets." Vladimir Solovyov, a recognized ideologue, almost a prophet of the new time, wrote: “For pure lyricism, the whole history of humanity is just an accident, a series of jokes, and he considers patriotic and civilian tasks as alien to poetry as the hustle and bustle of everyday life.” How far it is from the Lomonosov or Derzhavin credo!

For poets of the populist direction and writers who were in the circle of A.M. Gorky, the wars of the Russian Empire, too, did not appear as a heroic epic. Their credo is sympathy for the peasantry and the proletariat, that is, for the people who endured wartime. Many of them sympathized with the revolutionary parties and did not want to identify themselves with a country that they considered to be the “gendarme of Europe”.

For Gorky, the First World War became a deep disappointment: he believed in progress, in the victorious stride of the Enlightenment, but it turned out that governments and armies were ready for bloodshed - just like in the barbaric centuries. Yes, and with an unprecedented scale!
“The catastrophe, never experienced by the world, shakes and destroys the life of precisely those European tribes whose spiritual energy most fruitfully strove and seeks to free the person from the gloomy heritage of the obsolete fantasies of the ancient East - from mystic superstitions, pessimism and anarchism inevitably arising on the basis of a hopeless attitude to life, ”Gorky wrote with horror. The war for the interests of the bourgeoisie and aristocratic ambition was the only way Gorky perceived the First World War. And we should not dismiss this opinion: there is a fair share of truth here. Inconvenient truth.

Merezhkovsky and Gorky - the two poles of the then literature. And both did not promise the appearance of samples of traditional heroics. But the first days of the war sharply changed the consciousness of even the most sophisticated and distant from the “royal service” of the metropolitan bohemia. Immediately, several doom lords turned out to be war correspondents - and they rushed into this storm at the call of their souls. Valery Bryusov, a poet who studied history, who had long prophesied the “future Huns”, became the correspondent of the Russian Gazette. In the verses of the first year of the war, Bryusov speaks the language of symbols, then (very timidly!) Refers to trench reality. As a symbolist, he greeted the war with loud spells:

Under the tramp of armies, the thunder of guns,
Under the Newpors buzzing flight
Everything that we are about as a miracle
Dreamed, maybe gets up.
So! for too long we mowed
And the length of the valtasar feast!
Let let the fiery fonts
The world will be transfigured!
Let it fall into failure bloody
The building is wobbly for centuries,
In the wrong light of glory
The coming world will be new!
Let the old vaults collapse
Let the pillars fall with a roar, -
The beginning of peace and freedom
Let it be a terrible year of struggle!

An active commentator on military events suddenly became Fedor Sologub. In verses he pompously urged to punish Germany, protect the Slavic peoples and return Constantinople to the Orthodox ...

He accused the Germans of treachery, of unleashing a war ("On the beginner God! His fist in iron armor, But he will break over the abyss About our unshakable palace"). In journalism, Sologub turned into a sage, not alien to doubts. He tried to comprehend the mysterious modern war - the war of not only armies, but also technologies, industries, secret strategies.

“Not armies fight,” the armed nations met, and mutually test each other. Experiencing the enemy, incidentally experiencing by comparison and themselves. Experiencing people and orders, the structure of life and the warehouse of their own and others' characters and customs. The question of who they are is the question of who we are, ”this is said about the First World War.

Half a century before 1914, what a natural feeling seemed patriotism ... In the twentieth century, everything became incredibly complicated: “But our patriotism is not given to us easily. Our love for fatherland in Russia is something difficult, almost heroic. She must overcome too much in our life, so ridiculous and terrible. ”

It is significant that the Sologubov’s article on patriotism is called “With Cockroaches”: “And the cockroaches are good, free. All evil spirits and abominations are at ease here, in the vast expanses of our dear homeland. Is it really going to continue? Well, we will defeat Germany, having crushed it with the superiority of our forces, - well, and then what? Germany will remain, albeit a broken one, yet a country of honest people, hard work, accurate knowledge and a decent life, and we will all be cockroaches? It would be better if all the cockroaches in advance to withdraw, they would not have done us trouble. After the war, a very difficult and responsible time will begin. It is harmful for us to caress ourselves with the hope that this is the last war and that, therefore, then it will be possible to dissolve and lure crumbs from our rich table to the cockroaches dear to our hearts. ”

The reasoning, of course, is far from patriotic and not straightforward: it is relevant in the turmoil of our time. And such articles of Sologub were published in the “Stock Exchange News” almost weekly.

At the beginning of the war, Sologub hoped for a quick and convincing victory. He foresaw the Russian army in Berlin. It was not only with poems and articles that he (in other situations, a gall skeptic) tried to help the Russian army. With the patriotic lecture “Russia in dreams and expectations”, Sologub traveled all over the empire, visited the front-line regions.

The real soldier of the First World was Nikolai Gumilev, a cavalry officer. His most famous battle poem was written in the first weeks of his stay in the army. It is called “Offensive”.
The country that could be a paradise

Became a den of fire
We are approaching the fourth day,
We have not eaten for four days.
But do not be earthly
In this terrible and bright hour,
Because the word of the Lord
Better bread feeds us.
And drenched in blood week
Dazzling and light,
Shrapnel rushes over me
Birds soar blades.
I scream, and my voice is wild,
This copper strikes copper.
I, the bearer of great thought,
I can not, I can not die.
Oh, how white are the wings of victory!
How crazy her eyes are!
Oh, how wise her talk is,
Cleansing thunderstorm!
Like thunder hammers
Or the waters of the wrathful seas,
Golden heart of Russia
Rhythmically beats in my chest.
And so sweet to win the Victory,
Like a girl in pearls
Walking on the smoke trail
Retreating enemy.

Perhaps in this poem there is more dream of victory than personal experience, which came a little later. And it turned out to be worse. It is curious that in these years Gumilev-poet is interested not only in war. And the nerve of battles has been preserved, mainly in the poet’s prose, in The Notes of the Cavalryman.

In a word, in the first year and a half of the war patriotic sentiments dominated - almost in the classical spirit: “Orthodoxy! Autocracy! People! ”

Alas, by and large it turned out to be a short-term impulse - until the first disappointments. Very soon, under the influence of aesthetic criticism and panic tidings from the front, the public noticeably moderated the "hurray-patriotic" moods, and poets (the most striking example here can be considered Sergei Gorodetsky) were ridiculed for "chauvinistic" motifs - almost like Yanov-Vityaz, who wrote brisk campaign verses:

German pigs have been trapped
Stumbled painfully on the Russian fist,
From pain and anger howled,
They dug their muzzles in the dung ...

Here we see the satirical developments, which oh, how useful in a quarter of a century, during a new war. Yanov-Vityaz perceived events in the spirit of the Union of the Russian people - and his poems in the first year of the war sounded both at the front and in the rear. But already in 1916, their popularity plummeted.
Now the war was written only in a tragic, satirical, or pacifistic vein. Dreams of Constantinople were again perceived as an anachronism. Of course, there were exceptions, but they didn’t receive fame.

A remarkable example is the poems of the Rybinsk teacher Alexander Bode:

Get up, the country is huge
Get up on a mortal battle
With dark German power,
With the Teutonic horde.

Apparently, he wrote these lines in 1916. But they turned out to be unclaimed - to rise in the summer of the 1941 of the year, when they were edited by Lebedev-Kumach. And in the First World Russia did not acquire the "Holy War".

Could not stay away from the war young Mayakovsky. And in poetry and in journalism of the time, he argues as a controversial maximalist. At first this:

“I don’t know, whether for the robberies, for the murders, did the Germans start a war? Perhaps consciously only this thought directs them. But every violence in history is a step towards perfection, a step towards an ideal state. Woe to anyone who after the war will not be able to do anything except cutting human meat. So that there were no such people, today I would like to call for an ordinary “civilian” heroism. As a Russian, I sacred every effort of a soldier to pull out a piece of the enemy’s land, but as a man of art, I must think that maybe the whole war is invented only for someone to write one good poem. ”

With all the sharpness of the style, the position is almost traditional: the war has begun - it means that we need battle hymns, which means that we need literary heroics. Just like in 1812 year!
Soon Mayakovsky scolded his senior colleagues for sluggish poems about the war: “All the poets who are writing now about the war think that it is enough to be in Lviv to become modern. Enough to memorize the dimensions to make the words "machine gun", "gun", and you will go down in history as the bard of today!

Revised all recently published poems. Here is:

Again our dear people
We became brothers, and here
That is our common freedom,
Like a phoenix, rules its flight.
Dawn looked a long look,
Her bloody ray does not quench;
Our Petersburg became Petrograd
In that unforgettable hour.
Kipi is a terrible element
In war yes all poison will boil away, -
When Russia speaks,
That thunder of heaven speak.

Do you think this is one poem? Not. Four lines of Bryusov, Balmont, Gorodetsky. You can the same lines, the same as the donut, to recruit from twenty poets. Where is the stencil creator? This is how Mayakovsky laughed at the "obsolete forms", which, in his time, are irrelevant when it comes to the events of the twentieth century. The war of cars, the war of millions requires, it seemed, some unprecedented rhythm and language!

Mayakovsky himself wrote about the battles of the First World War from different ideological positions: from state, patriotic to defeatist. But every time I looked for words and rhythms that would correspond to the tragic split of the tenth years of the twentieth century. It was impossible to write about the new war neither in the language of Derzhavin, nor in the manner of Pushkin's “Poltava”, nor in the symbolistic spirit. Mayakovsky’s ragged lines sounded nervously and belligerently, plaintively:

What do you,
White, white, gawketing like a coffin.
About him is,
about the killed, telegram.
Ah, close,
close the eyes of the newspapers! "

("Mom and the Germans killed by the evening", 1914)

He failed to war. But even then, Mayakovsky wanted to “equate the pen with the bayonet”. Soon the war broke in his poetry in a sharply satirical vein - this is exactly the truth that his young audience was waiting for.

And opponents were outraged by rudeness and radicalism:

To you, living for an orgy orgy,
having a bath and warm toilet!
Shame on you about submitting to George
read from the columns of newspapers?

Here is the main contradiction of war. There were some gentlemen who were comfortable even in the days of the defeats of the Russian army, and many were enriched in the war.

When this became obvious, the positions of official patriotism were shaken even in the midst of the people, even in the army. This is a lesson to the authorities and elites for all times.

Even before the war, Alexander Blok turned to patriotic heroics (“Kulikov On the Field”). He was not interested in writing directly about machine guns and trenches. About the war, he, unlike Mayakovsky, wrote melodiously:

Centuries go by, war roars,
There is a rebellion, villages are burning,
And you're still the same, my country,
In the beauty of tear-stained and ancient.
How long do mothers suffer?
How long is a kite circling?

In 1915, Blok’s Poems About Russia, a compilation of Lyro-epic stanzas from different years, is published. “The best of everything that has been created in this field since Tyutchev’s time,” the critic Nikol'skii said about this book, capturing the opinion of many readers. And the block will proceed to the direct presentation of events after the fall of 1917, when a street enters his poems, and the formulas acquire aphoristic stamp. World War I prepared him for such a turn.

The history of poetry is not a history textbook. And yet, without poetic anthologies and anthologies, we will not get an idea of ​​the era.

It is enough to look through the verses of 1914 - 1917 in a chronological order to notice how the mood in society, in the army has changed; not only in Russia, but also in Europe.
Fighting for so many years turned out to be in no mood - that the Russians, that the Germans. And the offensive moods of the first year of the war were replaced by confusion or caustic satire, penitential or anti-war sentiments, requiem motifs or revolutionary hymns. Each position has its own truth.

Did the poets manage to help the army and the rear, to help the empire during the days of military overstrain? There can be no definite answer. The mirror of literature reflects a vague, agitated and heroic time.
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  1. makarov
    makarov 10 February 2014 08: 58
    So has Leskov almost forgotten the author of the material? After all, Evonoye "Lefty" is a product of the Crimean War.
  2. kaktus
    kaktus 10 February 2014 11: 12
    Petrograd sky rained with rain ...
    A.A. Block

    * * *

    Petrograd sky was raining,
    The train went to war.
    Endlessly - platoon after platoon and bayonet after bayonet
    He filled the wagon behind the wagon.

    In this train, a thousand lives bloomed
    The pain of separation, anxiety of love,
    Strength, youth, hope ... In the sunset
    There were smoky clouds in the blood.

    And, sitting down, the Varyag sang alone,
    And others - not in the way - Ermak,
    And shouted cheers, and they joked
    And the hand was quietly baptized.

    Suddenly, a falling leaf flew up in the wind,
    Swinging, the flashlight blinked,
    And beneath the black cloud a merry bugler
    Began to send a signal.

    And with military glory wept a horn
    Filling with anxiety of the heart.
    Rumble of wheels and hoarse whistle
    Choked cheers without end.

    The latter disappeared into the darkness of the buffer,
    And silence came down until morning
    And from the rainy fields everything rushed to us cheers,
    In a formidable clique sounded: it's time!

    No, we were not sad, we were not sorry
    Despite the rainy distance.
    It is clear, solid, faithful steel,
    And does she need our sadness?

    This pity - the fire drowns her,
    Thunder of guns and tramp of horses.
    Sadness - it is covered with poisoned steam
    From Galician bloody fields ...

    1 September 1914
    1. xan
      xan 10 February 2014 15: 28

      When hopes sing like trumpets
      their call is dope like sweet smoke.
      They are ultimate, they are purely
      and so it’s easy to believe them.
      And here is the road, and here is the parking lot,
      station and square - in colors, in colors.
      The east is smoking. Goodbye Slav!
      The trumpeter laughs, his greatcoat in crosses.

      Raised by glory, involved in deaths,
      try to remember catching flowers
      what was your call
      what word did you believe ...
      The armor is reliable, the posture is solid,
      refrain nonchalant: all “ah” and “hey” ...
      And the pipes ask: do not cry, Slav!
      But how, tell me, not to cry to her?

      It will be half a century. Other lips
      passionately embrace the mouthpiece of the other.
      Once again, hope sings like trumpets.
      Go try it, argue with the pipe.
      But the century is not over, the campaign has not begun.
      Station and square - in colors, in colors.
      The trumpeter laughs, the Slav cries.
      The east is smoking. Earth in the crosses.

  3. xan
    xan 10 February 2014 15: 23
    PMV has a complex perception for the Russian. I know the history of WWI quite well. Like a defeat, even sometimes shameful for the Russians accustomed to defeat, the mighty empire collapsed, the army eventually fled. And personally, I do not consider it shameful for Russia, there is regret, some kind of incomprehensible resentment about not being realized and a bunch of other things, but there is no shame for the Russian army. There is a notion that ordinary soldiers and sailors, not even for military training, but for their mentality, is beyond praise. And it is not their fault that they were poorly directed and not provided with ammunition. Once I even read in the memoirs of a White émigré officer with a German surname that in the terrible 15 year he heard from ordinary soldiers during endless retreats that it was a pity they could not reach a German with their hands, "they would not have blundered here."
    And there is no need to forget and keep silent about anything in the history of WWI, to be ashamed of something, everything is ours, and the heroes are ours, and "the snout is in the blood." Conclusions must be made correctly, and it will not rust behind ordinary men.
  4. Duke
    Duke 11 February 2014 03: 55
    Thanks for the nice wise article.
  5. Duke
    Duke 11 February 2014 03: 59
    immortal march