pasternak the poet

BORIS_BESIDE_THE_BALTIC_AT_MEREKULE_1910_by_L.Pasternak-1-e1511556934665Lydia Shoup at Ploughshares:

It’s been 100 years since the Russian Revolution of 1917 toppled Tsarist rule, leading to the socialist system that would come to be known as the Soviet Union. Boris Pasternak is best known for writing Doctor Zhivago, a novel which documents these years of national upheaval through the eyes of a poet and physician. Like his eponymous character, Pasternak was famous in his native Russia for his verses.

The end of the novel sees the fictional Zhivago’s poems laid out for readers. Thematically, they cover love, death, and religion. The most moving are the ones that relate to Zhivago specifically, often written in first person. These poems communicate the disorienting effects of the revolution and its aftermath on the daily lives of Russian citizens through the experience of Zhivago and his beloved Lara.

On paper, these poems are neat, brief, four-line stanzas with simple titles like “White Night,” “Autumn,” “A Winter Night,” “Separation,” and “Dawn.” Many of them serve a practical purpose—to chart narrative events in the novel such as Lara’s leaving Zhivago and the town of Varykino and the doctor’s subsequent hours spent alone there, writing and longing for her return.

more here.