Open main menu

Modern Russian Poetry/Fyodor Tyutchev

Fyodor Tyutchev

(1803-1873)


Tyutchev was rediscovered by the moderns and hailed as the great fore-runner. They found in his mentality and sensibility, as well as in his technique, elements foreign to classic normalcy, and akin to their own anguished metaphysics and æsthetics. The two hundred short lyrics, which are all the original poetry he has left us, exhibit the organic coherence and ordered beauty which belong to fine lyric art. The originality of his poems consists in that both man's routine passions and nature's passionless routine are sensed in ultimate, cosmic terms.

Tyutchev's career could not be inferred from his poetry. This was the by-product of a long and largely conventional life. He was a sedate bureaucrat in the diplomatic service, a position which kept him in Muenchen, the German Athens, during his best years. He proved the happiness of his marriage to a Bavarian aristocrat by marrying again shortly after her death. When he was on the shady side of fifty his career was seriously injured by a liaison with his daughter's teacher. During the last twenty years of his life he acted as censor, a position for which his political views eminently fitted him. He believed in autocracy, and he prophesied that Orthodox Russia, at the head of the united Slavs, would be the sacred arc riding the waves of the western revolutionary deluge.