«Vam, Razodrannyje v Klochja...». History of Poetic Epitaphs in the Creation of M. Tsvetaeva

2020. № 3, 88-100

Viktoria V. Nikultseva

Moscow University of Finance and Law MFUA (Russia, Moscow)


Vladimir N. Dyadichev

A. M. Gorky Institute of World Literature (Russian Academy of Sciences) (Russia, Moscow)




In the poem “To cadets killed in Nizhny” written in July 1917 M. Tsvetaeva mourns the funerals of cadets from Alekseevskoe military school. They were suppressing soldier mutiny in Nizhny Novgorod and buried in the military cemetery Bratskoye in Vsesvyatskoye village (at the All Saints Church, near the Sokol district). Today they have established a Memorial Park of the Heroes of the First World War in the vacant part of the former cemetery. It is crucial to be familiar with the historical background of the story behind the poetic epitaph and it plays an important role in the article.

Many poets (A. Blok, V. Mayakovsky, A. Vertinsky, Z. Gippius, etc.) created works dedicated to those who died in the stormy days of the Russian revolution of 1917, but among them Marina Tsvetaeva's poem “To cadets killed in Nizhny” occupies a special place. A clear, fractional rhythm, alliteration of the sound combinations [pr] – [tr] – [rv], assonance of vowel sounds [a] – [o] – [u:], accentual verse, falling-rising intonations and author's pauses in simple syntagmas convey the tension and energy of the verse. Numerous tropes (the personification “the trumpets sighed heavily”, metaphors “heart breaks”, “torn to shreds”, epithets “light dust”, “in a nameless hole”), figures (parcellationism: “- How, without a checker? / Without shoulder straps / Officers? / In the morning - / in a nameless hole?”; rhetorical questions and exclamations; ellipsis), individual author's phraseology (“Give the last debt / To those who gave the debt the soul”; cf. “give the last debt”; “give your soul to God”) – the combination of these poetic techniques creates an artistic image of violent death, characteristic of the unique stylistic manner of Marina Tsvetaeva, which not only elevates the author's thought to the level of philosophical generalization, but also grows into a political attack. The poet defies the Provisional government, unable to rule the country. This poetic epitaph to cadets belongs to one of the best pieces in the heritage of Marina Tsvetaeva.

For citation:

Nikultseva V. V., Dyadichev V. N. “Vam, Razodrannyje v Klochja...”.
History of Poetic Epitaphs in the Creation of M. Tsvetaeva. RussianSpeech = Russkaya Rech’. 2020. No. 3. Pp. 88–100. DOI: 10.31857/S013161170009963-8.