Yevgeny Baratynsky (1800–1844)
Biography of Yevgeny Baratynsky
Yevgeny Abramovich Baratynsky (2 March 1800 – July 11, 1844) was lauded by Alexander Pushkin as the finest Russian elegiac poet. After a long period when his reputation was on the wane, Baratynsky was rediscovered by Anna Akhmatova and Joseph Brodsky as a supreme poet of thought.
Of noble ancestry, Baratynsky was educated at the Page Corps at St. Petersburg, from which he was expelled at the age of 15 after stealing a snuffbox and five hundred roubles from the bureau of his accessory's uncle. After three years in the countryside and deep emotional turmoil, he entered the army as a private.
In 1820 the young poet made his acquaintance with Anton Delvig, who rallied his falling spirits and introduced him to the literary press. Soon Baratynsky was transferred to Finland, where he remained six years. His first long poem, Eda, written during this period, established his reputation.
In January 1826, he married the daughter of the Major-General Gregory G. Engelhardt. Through the interest of friends he obtained leave from the tsar to retire from the army, and settled in 1827 in Muranovo near Moscow (now a literary museum). There he completed his longest work, The Gipsy, a poem written in the style of Pushkin.
Baratynsky's family life seemed to be happy, but a profound melancholy remained the background of his mind and of his poetry. He published several books of verse that were highly valued by Pushkin and other perceptive critics, but met with the comparatively cool reception of the public, and violent ridicule on the part of the young journalists of the "plebeian party". As the time went by, Baratynsky's mood progressed from pessimism to hopelessness, and elegy became his preferred form of expression. He died in 1844 at Naples, where he had gone in pursuit of a milder climate.
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When, by sorrow inspired,
The poet sings his own pine,
Whose soul will be cold and tired
To give not him the answer, fine?
Who, greedy for the old damnation,
Will dare to scoff at sadness, else?
But all are cold to execration,
The imitated cry's vexation,
Affected wailing is a jest!