Two Russian Romantic Poets who shared a Common Fate
Posted on January 14th, 2011

Dr Ruwan M Jayatunge  

 Alexander Pushkin and Mikhail Lermontov were Great Russian romantic poets who lived in the 19th century. They knew each other and adored each other’s work.  Both were rebellious in nature. Alexander Pushkin was the pioneer of Russian literature. Among his major works Ruslan and Ludmila  , Evgenii Onegin, and Boris Godunov are the greatest masterpiece of Russian literature. Although Pushkin was a genius in literature, the Russian Czar did not appreciate his poems, which carried the elements of criticism of the system. Pushkin was a daring activist who secretly involved with an underground revolutionary group and also publicly expressed his supported for the Decembrist uprising which demeaned feudal reforms. As result of his rebellious attitude   Pushkin was banished from St Petersburg.

 In 1827 he composed the ode titled The Poet

 Until he hears Apollo’s call

To make a hallowed sacrifice,

A Poet lives in feeble thrall

To people’s empty vanities;

And silent is his sacred lyre,

His soul partakes of chilly sleep,

And of the world’s unworthy sons

He is, perhaps, the very least.

 Pushkin knew the suffering of the peasants under the Czar’s regime. As a member of the upper Russian social class Pushkin was never fascinated by its glory. He had a mission in his life. Pushkin often used his writing to express the agony and suppression of the Russian people. Hence he was hated by the regime. But the general public recognized Pushkin as a great poet and respected him. Gradually he became the envy of the Royal Palace.

 Many conspiracies launched against Pushkin and finally he was provoked to engage in a dual.  In the ill-fated dual he was fatally wounded and later succumbed to the injuries.  After Alexander Pushkin’s tragic death    Lermontov published an elegy titled Smerta Poeta or The Death of a Poet which criticized the conspiracy involved in Pushkin’s untimely death.

 Alexander Pushkin and Mikhail Lermontov shared many things in common.  Both were inspired by the novels of Sir Walter Scott. Both demanded social reforms and emerged as spokesmen for literary radicals. Their work provided fertile ground for the Russian poets and novelists.  Both had a great influence to the later Russian writers.  From Gogal to Dostoyevsky and from Dostoyevsky to Boris Pasternak their unique influence remained unchanged.

  Ironically Pushkin and   Lermontov led reckless and generally cynical lives, but they expressed their inner feelings via prose and verse. Mikhail Lermontov had an influence of Lord Byron and as a matter of fact he adopted the Byronic cult of personality. Lermontov’s psychological novel A Hero of Our Time describes a reckless and a cynical character named Grigorii Pechorin.

 The central character Pechorin was a complex in nature. Pechorin was an impulsive, emotionally numbed and manipulative, capable of extreme bravery but generally bored by his life. Pechorin was a hero as well as a renegade and according to some critics the   central character in A Hero of Our Time could really have been applied to Lermontov himself. Lermontov’s best-known poem, The Demon a self-accusing poem   exemplifies a fallen angel who   loves a mortal woman reflecting the poet’s self-image as a demonic creature.

 Lermontov loved Caucasus region and admired its natural beauty. The Caucasus had also inspired Puskin. Their characters were some what similar. Both were sensitive, cynical, nihilistic, and possessed of extreme arrogance. They stood against the social injustice. Like Pushkin Lermontov was killed in a duel in the Caucasus. Both died at young age crating a deep void in the field of literature. Alexander Pushkin’s and Lermontov’s lives could be viewed as one of the most epic and dramatic in the history of literature.

One Response to “Two Russian Romantic Poets who shared a Common Fate”

  1. mipco Says:

    he 25th ANNIVERSARY EDITION of the most scandalous book in Russian
    Literature has been just published:

    Alexander S. Pushkin Secret Journal 1836-1837

    ISBN 978-0-916201-28-9


    The hero of the work, Alexander Pushkin, presents in an encapsulated form his various sexual relations, his complex thoughts on life, the nature of sin, love, and creativity, as well as the complicated path that led him to his tragic end.

    The Secret Journal has incited and continues to incite the most contradictory responses reflected in three volumes of Parapushkinistika.
    Now published in 25 countries (, the Secret Journal deserves to be placed among the most scandalous works of Russian literature.
    In spite of the international success of Pushkin’s Secret Journal lasting now a quarter century, no major U.S. publisher has dared to publish it.

    New French ( and Spanish ( editions of the Secret Journal are being published in 2011.

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