Friday, May 13, 2016

Sherzod Komil Khalil writes

To Joseph Brodsky 
Goodbye, O, familiar friends, 
My sounds have gone to the sky. 
Don’t wonder, I never forget, 
My beautiful days happened with you. 
Goodbye, O, cheerful charming, 
I never forget the taste of kisses. 
Don’t mind, if I send you letters
From distances neither actual nor imaginary, 
Goodbye, O, my kind and pleasant mother
Who suckled me,
Don’t feel pain from my disappearance
If the world seems tight to your eyes. 
Goodbye, O, frozen land
My enemies assault suddenly. 
While I am leaving you
A grievous cry comes from my throat. 
Goodbye, O, joyful days, 
I will wave my hand to everything. 
The large infinity ingests me
While the darkness captures me. 
Goodbye, O, my life
That suffered and mixed revolts 
Persecuting me unmercifully 
Through the birth, life and death. 
--tr. Asror Allayarov 
Monument to Joseph Brodsky erected in the courtyard of the Languages Department of St. Petersburg State University 
Memorial stone to Brodsky at 19 -- Ulitsa Stakhanovtsev (in the courtyard of a student dormitory at St. Petersburg State University Philology Faculty where Brosky visited a girlfriend)


  1. In 1973, in his introduction to Joseph Brodsky's "Selected Poems," W. H. Auden discussed his "encounters with nature..., reflections upon the human condition, death, and the meaning of existence." Iosif Aleksandrovich Brodsky was a Russian and American poet and essayist. Born in poverty in Leningrad in 1940, he survived the fierce World War II siege of the city but throughout his life suffered from various health problems it caused. He dropped out of school at 15 and found a number of jobs, as a milling machine operator, a corpse opener at the Kresty Prison morgue, a stoker in a ship's boiler room, a lighthouse operator, and, from 1957, he participated in geological expeditions to the White Sea, Eastern Siberia, and Yakutia. He learned English so he could translate John Donne and acquired a deep interest in classical philosophy, religion, and mythology, as well as English and American poets, especially Auden and Robert Frost. He began writing apolitical poems in 1955, which he circulated in secret, but some were published in the underground journal "Sintaksis" (Syntax). However, as he recalled, "In 1959, in Yakutsk, when walking in that terrible city, I went into a bookstore. I snagged a copy of poems by Baratynsky. I had nothing to read. So I read that book and finally understood what I had to do in life. Or got very excited, at least. So in a way, Evgeny Abramovich Baratynsky is sort of responsible." [Baratynsky was an early 19th century poet who was lauded by Alexander Pushkin as the finest Russian elegiac poet and was rediscovered in the 20th century by the Russian Symbolists. His short pieces from the 1820s were distinguished by their cold, metallic brilliance and sonority; they are dryer and clearer than any Russian verse before Anna Akhmatova's.] In 1960 he made his first public appearance as a poet, giving a reading at the Gorky Palace of Culture, met the 71-year-old Anna Akhmatova, who encouraged him and became his mentor; in 1962 she introduced him to Marina Basmanova, who drawing her portrait. They became lovers, but his close friend and fellow poet Dmitri Bobyshev also fell in love with her. As Bobyshev began to pursue Basmanova, the Soviet authorities began to pursue Brodsky, presumably at Bobyshev's instigation. In January 1961, he was arrested by the KGB but released after two days.

  2. In 1963, a Leningrad newspaper denounced his poetry as "pornographic and anti-Soviet;" his papers were confiscated, he was interrogated, put in a mental institution twice, and charged with social parasitism. At his 1964 trial, prosecutors called him "a pseudo-poet in velveteen trousers" who failed to fulfill his "constitutional duty to work honestly for the good of the motherland." When the trial judge asked, "Who has recognized you as a poet? Who has enrolled you in the ranks of poets?" Brodsky answered, "No one. Who enrolled me in the ranks of the human race?" Sentenced to five years' hard labor in Siberia, but he was freed in 18 months due to public pressure from Akhmatova, composer Dmitri Shostakovich, Jean-Paul Sartre, and others. Only four of his poems were published in authorized anthologies, though it began appearing abroad. Official harassment kept Basmanova from marrying him, though their son was born in 1967, registered under her surname rather than his; and she eventually ended their relationship, though Brodsky continued to address poems to her into the 1980s. In 1971, Brodsky declined two official suggestions that he emigrate to Israek. In 1972, without any personal examination, Andrei Snezhnevsky diagnosed him as having "sluggishly progressing schizophrenia" and concluded that he was "not a valuable person at all and may be let go." Within 10 days police broke into his apartment and confiscated his papers. Brodsky was "strongly advised" to emigrate and put on a plane for Vienna on 4 June 1972. He never returned to Russia, and Basmanova was never allowed to join him, though after the Soviet collapse his son was permitted to join him briefly in the 1990s. With the help of W. H. Auden, whom he met in Austria, he settled in the US, became an American citizen in 1977, and taught at a number of universities there and abroad, began writing in English, and undertaking annual trips to Venice. He regarded poetry as "language's highest degree of maturity" and was frustrated that it did not attract large American audiences as it did in Russia. In 1987 he won the Nobel Prize in Literature and became the US poet laureate in 1991, saying,"By failing to read or listen to poets, society dooms itself to inferior modes of articulation, those of the politician, the salesman or the charlatan.... Poetry is not a form of entertainment and in a certain sense not even a form of art, but it is our anthropological, genetic goal, our evolutionary, linguistic beacon." He proposed a government-sponsored program to distribute free or cheap poetry anthologies in hotels, airports, hospitals, and supermarkets. He died of a heart attack in New York, at 55, and was buried in the Isola di San Michele cemetery in Venice, Italy, near the graves of Ezra Pound and Igor Stravinsky.


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