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Page:Modern Russian Poetry.djvu/164

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Andrey Bely

(Pseudonym of Boris Bugayev; born 1880)


Reared in a professorial atmosphere, in which science was the major element, Boris Bugayev, better known under his pseudonym of Andrey Bely, has lived a double life of artist and analyst. The artist was engrossed in problems of form. He created an interesting, experimental genre which he called "symphony," with cadenced prose, verbal instrumentation and musical development of themes. The analyst, on his part, used mathematic formulae on the poet's fine frenzy, inaugurating a science of rhythmics, at least for the Russians. Yet Bely is no aesthete, but a mystic, who gropes toward the light of Christ, "the timeless taper," and who lives by the uncertain hope of the ineffable coming. The metaphysical conflict is constantly invading the field of his poetic endeavor, until his lyrics become the battle-cries of his spiritual tourneys. He is responsible for more theorizing about symbolism than any one else, but characteristically enough, he erects this nebula into a Weltanschauung and almost into an ethics.

His poetry is rarefied and difficult. Its delicate imagery is but an overtone of a resonant spiritual note. His poems have an esoteric quality which is also evidenced in his two famous novels, "The Silver Dove" and "Petersburg." Through both moves a curious counterpoint of the apocalyptic and the homely, muffled by theosophic speculation.

The proletarian revolution elicited from Bely a cycle of poems, suggestively entitled "Christ Is Risen!" Herein he envisions Russia, of which he once despaired, as the new Nazareth. Quite recently he completed the first part of a monumental epic planned for ten volumes.

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