Sunday, September 09, 2012
The poetry of Dr. Adolf P. Shvedchikov - RUSSIA
Dr. Adolf P. Shvedchikov, PhD, LittD, is a Russian scientist, poet and translator. He was born in 1937, Shakhty, Russia. He has over 500 poems published in different international magazines of poetry which have been translated into numerous languages. Shvedchikov is a member of the International Society of Poets, of the World Congress of Poets, the International Association of Writers and Artists, and the Associazione Letteraria Italo-Australiana Scrittori (A.L.I.A.S.) of Melbourne, Australia.
I have read some of his poems and must admit that they are highly readable. The language he uses is crystal clear, with no hermeneutic juggling of words. Still Shvedchikov’s poems leave space for ample reflection and pondering about the truth expressed in these concise writings. There is still depth in his clarity of language. The images he uses are beautiful and pleasant for the reader who loves poetry (for example, memory is compared to a “storehouse of countless emotions” in The memory is an amusing thing) which aims to communicate in general positive things and thus help to live life, with its ups and downs, with a smile. The words pass on to the reader the beauty of the poet from the inside; words give life and give solidity to the thoughts (which are abstract) of the poet. At times Shvedchikov adds wonder to his poems by using rhyme, mostly the ABBA or ABAB types, thus presenting some of his poems as rhyming quatrains. In other occasions Shvedchikov opts for free verse.
The reader of Shvedchikov’s poetry soon notes that his are poems which can be divided in three sections:
i. there are those where the “I” perspective is used:
“I paint your unknown portrait […] I live simply without a care” (from I paint your unknown portrait);
“I will never stop to wonder […] I still stay happy hearing drops of rain” (from I will never stop to wonder);
“I feel the aroma of ripe apples./ I know that many years later” (from I feel the aroma of ripe apples);
“I am rolling along an endless way […] I suffer from a web of lies,/ I don’t want my early demise,/ I don’t want to go astray./ I prefer a self-made law” (from The taste of a bitter life);
ii. there are those where the “we” perspective is adopted:
“Our life is an endless conflict […] We cannot give empty promises./ We must learn the art of diplomacy” (from Our life is an endless conflict);
“Eternally we pose questions before nature […] We try to sharpen/ Our mind without success” (from Eternally we pose questions before nature);
“We come naked to this world/ And live like bisexual creatures” (from We come naked to this world);
“We all are different people/ With different colour of skin and eyes” (from We all are different people);
iii. there are poems where the poet addresses the “you”:
“When you said goodbye to your love […] You have opened the gates of Hell” (from The path to Hell);
“You are not celestial, you are a terrestrial creature!/ You need your own home” (from Everyone has a house somewhere);
“You keep the sensuality of night/ On your majestic shoulders” (from On your majestic shoulders);
“You create your own sunset and sunrise,/ You live in your painted paradise” (from The kaleidoscope of your fantasy).
In category (i) the poet is more personal (although true poetry then reaches the universal dimension too); in category (ii) the poet becomes one with all humanity and voices universal moral, environmental and other concerns; in category (iii) poems there is an “I” and “you” dialectic which aims to the discovery of different truths in relation to humanity and the world that surrounds it.
In his poetry Adolf P. Shvedchikov celebrates simple and small things in everyday life such as love, life itself, beauty, the seasons, home and others. Overall, he is a positive poet, even though he is conscious of death and other limitations.
Poetry – In I have such a hobby Shvedchikov states that for him poetry is more than a hobby. It is the fruit of the real craftsman and words are born from fire. The poet is inspired not only by sounds and colours, but also by silence itself. Silence is made “tangible” through poetry (see Tell me, what silence means?). Poetry is also part of the search for happiness and sincerity (The lines of the verses swirl like snowflakes). In I tried like Sergei Esenin to race on a rose-coloured horse Shvedchikov remembers this Russian lyrical poet who lived between 1895 and 1925. Poetry as reflection is stated in Put parallel mirrors in front of each other. In this case poetry reflects the person who is writing; however, real poetry is universal, thus the writing self finally disappears to reach universal and infinite dimensions (“You disappear completely,/ Your train of thought leads you into infinity…”). Poetry is also a state to be reached in How do drops of poetry appear?: poetry is “Where everything transforms into a fairy tale,/ And you become happy like a child!”.
When I’ll be far away is about poetical magic: poetry is understood as something that gives man an eternal dimension but also as something that is also linked to joy and helps one to face death with a smile. “Poetry is a goddess with many faces” in the poem which has the same name. The writing of poetry is linked to the soul in Oh, let my soul sing the mystic song! “Song” here is poetry itself, a song which is “melodious” and “strong” and brings “to people gladness, mirth and joy”. Poetry is pleasure, colour and fire in The nature of poet which I am quoting in full:
“The poet is an artist, painting in his pleasure.
He doesn’t need brushes or mute canvas,
He uses different instruments, alas,
The proper words commensurate with measure.
Epithets and metaphors are his treasure.
He paints upon an invisible canvas of mind,
His art may see by even the blind,
Obtaining a myriad of genuine pleasure!
And mixing joy with the severest pain,
Igniting your sensitive heart’s fire,
He moves your wondrous imagination higher,
Inviting you into his illustrious reign!”
The “you” in The kaleidoscope of your fantasy may be the artist or the poet himself. Fantasy and imagination are linked to life, while boredom means death: “You create your own sunset and sunrise,/ You live in your painted paradise…” Song and poetry still echoes even many years after the death of the poet. And this quality is blessed by God: “Let God bless that magnificent year,/ When you still hear my echoing song…” (Perhaps you’ll hear my forgotten song). In Wait! Shvedchikov addresses a “great poet” and writes about “The expanse of [his] poetical sea” and asks “How far are extended the roots of your tree?” Metaphorically here poetry is compared to vast spaces that may even reach great depths.
Love – A number of Shvedchikov’s poems discuss the theme of love and sensuality. While the poet is a believer in God, he admits that he is also in need of a Goddess: “I need a Goddess, / To make sky blue at midnight!/ I want to dream about her smile,/ About her supple figure,/ I want to kiss her white breast” (see Man is in need of God). Shvedchikov writes about his lover’s “majestic shoulders”, her “attractive eyes” (in On your majestic shoulders), her skin’s smell, her “tender palms” (I am pleased by smell of your skin). Love is understood as an international language in The language of love: it “speaks without words!” It annihilates the signs of age (When you are able to love), and thus in I remember still that moist sand the poet writes that “I still hope/ That your love will never fade,/ And your footprints will stay/ Once and for all on that seashore!” Through poetry Shvedchikov declares his love to his beloved one: “I would like to tell you,/ That you are my biggest treasure,/ I love you in the fullest measure,/ I am all yours without residue!” (If I could put my feelings into words). In I would like to stay with you he declares “Being your endless rolling wave,/ My beloved, I’m ready to waive/ From old life and melt into you.” In the absence of love life becomes rough: “All our feelings melted like wax,/ How rough is reality’ axe,/ When nothing strikes a sensitive chord…”
Sensual love is linked to joy in How divine is dance of joy!: what Shvedchikov suggests to his reader is, “Have sensual pleasure and enjoy!/ Feel the pulsation of thirsty lips,./ Your heart beats quickly to and fro,/ You are so happy with what’s in store,/ How alluring is love nectar’s sips!”. Love “warms the hearts/ And gives joy to people day and night!” (Myriad cupolas of love).
Love is portrayed even through colours. In The red light of non-transmitted messages Shvedchikov writes about the “fresh green leaf”, the “rainbow”, the “red light” in order to say that at times we love somebody through a language which is not understood by the other. In Earth and heaven the poet looks at “the reddish straw of your hair”: Shvedchikov has no limits in expressing his love to the person he loves. Reaching ecstasy happens not only through love but also through poetry itself as words themselves become an expression of true love. In Love at first sigh Shvedchikov writes about her “coral lips”, the “night violet” and the “turquoise sky”. Love and colours (but also sounds and tastes) are seen also in I paint your unknown portrait: “I paint your unknown portrait/ On the sand of yellow, velvety dunes […] I blend into one/ The sunlight and radiance of the moon […] I keep in my mind the same morning dew/ And your divine face!”
Love is also play and desire (I wish I were…). I cannot promise to bring you sunny day is a promise of love made up of devotion and tranquillity. What Shvedchikov offers is a love which is long-lasting, shy and honest, thus a kind of love that not everybody is ready to accept. On the other hand there is “incomprehension’s abyss!” (I am a fluttering bird soaring in the sky). Finally, love is also understood as light in The first kiss: “There is a fresh fragrance of the first kiss,/ It is powerful flame that lights up your heart”.
Social problems – The poet is a special and very sensitive being. He has an eye also for all the injustice and suffering that is happening in our world. His way of reacting is through words and poetry. Shvedchikov writes about suffering in general in We come naked to this world and poses a rhetorical question: “Why is reality so cruel and why is our life/ So full of suffering and tears?” The answer to such a question comes out in a number of poems that follow. The poet addresses the problem of hunger and poverty in God says to share a piece of bread with somebody else. In Our life is an endless conflict he writes about war and the weakness of peace and friendship in the human world. Faced with such weakness the poet suggests diplomacy and “a reasonable compromise!” as a solution. War and hatred are the subject matter of This is war without end: Shvedchikov is right when he writes, “The plague of hatred has been wandering for/ Too long around the world,/ And mankind becomes mad!/ People forget about Heaven,/ The hope for good disappears…” In The taste of a bitter life he writes, “I am sick from the violence and decay”. However for Shvedchikov the worst enemy of humankind is the evil which resides within man himself. In Don’t search for the devil in the bushes he warns against the devil and writes, “He is inside of you, he is you fear eternal!” Again, Shvedchikov’s religious dimension reveals itself through such statements: man has distanced himself too much from God and so he has to face various negative consequences.
Shvedchikov’s environmental cry is expressed in All of us are connected by the same chain which takes the form of a warning: mankind must respect what nature has built in millenniums (“Don’t be silly because nature/ has checked everything many times”). My poor flower, I still don’t understand is about the clash between nature (flower, sprouts) and progress (asphalt, stones, tar, sand, “clouds of exhaust gas”).
Problems we have to face and living a better life – Shvedchikov is all the time aware of the fact that “life is not simple” (When you understand that life is not simple). He knows that “We cannot be happy when the weather is cold” (Sometimes life gives us rigid lessons), that “We are tourists in this world” and that “death…/ It is mishap and nonsense!” (Nobody thinks about our own death).
The poet speaks about reality with no half terms: he writes about “nothingness” (Paradox of time). In Beauty is like a rose in blossom Shvedchikov reminds us that beauty is short lived and that one has to be realistic and sincere enough to accept the fact that the last destination is nothingness and death: “Everything is over including/ The gallop of mad horses./ You fall into nothingness to forget about the past.” On the other hand, the moment of death can be also revealing and an answer to life enigmas. In I stay bewitched the poet writes “I stay bewitched/ By myriad lights./ I am reborn again/ At the end of my life!”
However, that against death and nothingness is not a lost battle for Shvedchikov. He reacts to such a notion in Reject an old truth “From dust to dust” when he writes that “We are not dust, we are human beings […] We are valuable part of magic Wonderland”. Shvedchikov reacts against the notion of death by writing about birth, joy and happiness in life:
“On this marvellous moment of birth!
Of child…of joy…of freedom…
The instant of sensuality, inspiration,
Of all those minutes of joy which nature gives us!
Without these moments of happiness
Our life would be unbearable… full of tears…”
(On this marvellous moment of birth)
In Miracle of life the poet puts aside all sorrow in order to embrace the “Miracle of life”, which is his “religion” and “eternal priority”. During hard times Shvedchikov suggests someone to share the dark moments with in order to survive (When the ferocious wind comes). In Sometimes life gives us rigid lessons the poet knows that although “The sun shines friendly, the grass is green”, “this joyful day will not be last./ Our soul is full of rains again in autumn.” However, Shvedchikov remains optimistic and writes, “we still have a little ray of hope/ Which brings warmth to our soul!”
That of Shvedchikov is poetry which can be also understood as practical philosophy which helps one to deal better with life’s “pitfalls” (When you understand that life is not simple). One of Shvedchikov’s rules against drowning is to “Learn to play, learn to laugh,/ To solve numerous problems,/ Learn to love, learn to fight” (Learn to swim like a dog). In The sad thought is a dangerous virus the poet adds to this by writing, “And be engaged in sport/ Or fall in love again!” Wild grasses addresses all those who know how to survive difficult times.
In a number of his poems Shvedchikov discusses old age as opposed to youth. The concept of Running of time is conveyed through the manifestations of different seasons and nature (“snow”, “summer”, “autumn”). It is poetry that keeps the poet young even if he is fully conscious that he has reached old age. In Old woman the poet compares “The wrinkles of life, enfeebled body, old/ age” to “the folds on a bed sheet”. The mature poet writes about the changes brought by time and remembers his youth days in How carefree are early seventeenth and in I remember (“I remember every glorious day/ Of my splendid radiant youth”).
Faced with old age Shvedchikov expresses more than once a desire for weightlessness. In I would like to be the wind he wishes to lose his human characteristics and be detached from all problems and all that limits him in order to become free as the wind (“I would like to be the wind who seeks/ Space in the unlimited bright sky […] I would like to be the wind in eternal glee…”). In another instance he writes “I wish I were immortal wings […] I wish I were a playful breeze” (I wish I were…), and again, “I am a fluttering bird soaring in the sky” (I am a fluttering bird soaring in the sky).
Nature and beauty – Every poet in a way or another feels part of nature and refers to both the micro- (the smallest of creatures such as the nightingale, the seagull, seeds, “ripe apples”, the flight of cranes, flowers, leaves, snowflakes) and the macrocosm (the sunlight, the sea, the wind, the dunes, the moon, the rainbow) in his verse. Shvedchikov is no exception. Many times his feelings and reflections are conveyed through natural imagery. The beauty of Shvedchikov’s poetry manifests itself through nature’s beauty: “The lines of the verses swirl like snowflakes,/ And the winter wind pushes them into snowdrifts […] Like yellow leaves they dance in the autumn…” (The lines of the verses swirl like snowflakes). The poet expresses a strong sense of wonder as he faces the changes brought by the natural seasons. Through nature he celebrates the beauty of life: “The spring fragrance grows in our blood,/ We walk and smile simply:/ This is not celestial, this is terrestrial paradise!” (Clouds float in the blue sky).
Spirituality – Adolf P. Shvedchikov is also a spiritual poet. He admits that Man is in need of God. He leaves it in the hands of God to decide about our final destiny. In The past disappeared into nothingness he writes:
“We celebrate Christmas,
But we know nothing about the next world.
We think that when the Judgement Day comes,
Everyone will get what he deserves.
But what to do with those
Who were sinful but tried to find the right path?
The situation is open to question.
But thank God! We are still alive…”
In We all are different people Shvedchikov writes about what makes humankind one: “But what unites us […] It is our dream because everyone/ Thinks about the Promised Land.” Another spiritual poem is The ocean depths of my immortal soul: during the darkest moments there is the soul which comforts the poet. Spirituality reaches where human limitations cannot, and in this case soul and God become one.
Those of Shvedchikov are poems which can be read more than once as every individual reading generates satisfaction and a sense of wonder and awe in the reader (regularly expressed in his poems through the use of the exclamation mark. However the exclamation mark in Shvedchikov’s poetry denotes assertion too). Shvedchikov’s poetry speaks directly from the heart and addresses the reader who appreciates sublime poetry in its simplicity, clarity, and sincerity. It tackles with different aspects of life and is directly linked to all that which makes us human beings. In a certain sense that of Shvedchikov is poetry as therapy in that it keeps closely linked to what every one of us experiences both from the outside and the inside and tries to make us feel better.
Patrick Sammut (September 2012)