Peculiarities of Referential Relation of the Pronoun Мы (“We”) in S. A. Yesenin’s “Small” Poems

2020. № 6, 94-106

Yuliya A. Arskaya, Akhmed A. Mamedov, Irkutsk State University (Russia, Irkutsk),,


The paper discusses the use of the personal pronoun мы (“we”) as means of denoting a persona in S. A. Yesenin’s “small” poems. The study focuses on referential correlation of the collective subject denoted by the pronoun мы.

The authors undertake a comprehensive contextual analysis of all мы pronouns in the most voluminous poem “Inonia”, in which the cosmogonic theme of the cycle is expressed most explicitly.

The investigation results in the conclusion that in three of four cases the first “equity” participant of the collective subject denoted by the pronoun мы is the persona. However, in the last context we cannot determine the first ‘equity’ participant. As for the second ‘equity’ participant, it cannot be determined in any of four cases.

Referential non-transparency of the pronoun мы has common features with the abstract character of the subjects in the sentences and inclination to non-referential or indefinitely referential usage of persons’ nominations. Hence we can assume that the fact that it is impossible to identificate the collective subject denoted with the pronoun мы might be a poetological peculiarity of the cycle under study.

The authors present the results of contrastive analysis of frequency of the pronoun мы in prerevolutionary S. A. Yesenin’s lyrics and in his “small” poems. The research is based on the material from a poetry subcorpus of Russian National Corpus. In early work of S. A. Yesenin, the pronoun мы is used more rarely and its referential relation is more transparent. It is either definite (in narrative poetry and in poems addressed to a certain person) or non-referential (existential мы and universal мы). This confirms the frequency and referential non-transparency of the pronoun мы in the poetic cycle under consideration. Summarizing the results, the authors claim that the contradictory system of dramatis personae created by means of unidentified collective мы -subjects was one of the causes of polar opposite interpretations of “small” poems.

For citation:

Arskaya Yu. A., Mamedov A. A. Peculiarities of Referential Relation of the Pronoun Мы (“We”) in S. A. Yesenin’s “Small” Poems. Russian Speech = Russkaya Rech’. 2020. No. 6. Pp. 94–106. DOI: 10.31857/S013161170012880-7.