O. Mandelstam’s poem We Live Without Feeling the Country Beneath Our Feet landed the poet in a Russian prison camp because Stalin didn’t like the way that the poet portrayed him. The poem refers to the man with fat worm hands, a cockroach mustache and being in command of thin-men/chickens. It isn’t a particularly worthy presentation of a country’s leader.
Anna Akhmatova’s poem The Last Toast was subtly about loss of country. She says that their home is lost. This means Russia since Akhmatova was Russian. She speaks of betrayal, death (cold), and being damned (God turned their back). Reading between the lines it seems Akhmatova was talking about how Russia is a cursed land, so cursed that not even God can do anything but the deeper betrayal was by the “you” in the poem (perhaps Stalin, perhaps a lover).
In B. Pasternak’s poem Hamlet many allusions to Stalin can be made. For instance the poet speaks about what the future holds and refers to the future as if it is untranslatable. This untranslatableness can be alluded to by the poem using the word “darkness” in the second stanza. Whenever anything is dark, literary archetype says that it’s without knowledge, pagan, or evil (for instance, the woods in many poems and fairy tales are always dark and represent the opposite of civilization and therefore the opposite of culture which Russia was during Stalin’s reign).
The poet acquiesces to their fate, but states that something more horrific is to come; therefore the poet is peering into the future and sees something horrible. This horror is something the poet doesn’t want or desire to be a part of and asks to be “exempt” from it. The fate of Russia then is “sealed” as the poet states, and irrevocable.
- Akhmatova, A. (1934). The Last Toast. Poetryloverspage. Retrieved 27 February 2015.
- Pasternak, B. (1960). Hamlet. Poetryhunter. Retrieved 27 February 2015.
- Mandelstam, O. (2013). We Live Without Feeling the Country Beneath Our Feet. Typepad. Retrieved 27 February 2015.