Wednesday, October 20, 2004


A place that shall not be named, okay "Socialist" "Worker", has a brief appraisal of the life and times of Vladimir Mayakovsky. As such brief introductions go it goes. But what's this. "On 9 April 1930 he read his poem “At the Top of My Voice” to students who shouted him down for being obscure." Maybe so, but the source for that is fairly obscure (i.e. I can't find it). The reports of Mayakovsky's readings of At The Top Of My Voice I've read all say the piece was greeted by applause.

My words
are not used
to caressing ears;
nor titillate
with semi-obscenities
maiden ears
hidden in hair so innocent
. . .
. . .
We opened
Marx and Engels
every tome,
as in our home
we open wide the shutters,
but without reading
we understand alone,
whose side we're on
and in which camp we're fighters.
And not from Hegel
did we learn
our dialectics.
That burst
through interclashing conflict
into verse,
when under fire
the bourgeois
ran from our attacks,
as we
once also ran from theirs.
. . .
. . .
above the band
of skin-flint grafters
in rhymes,
I'll lift up high,
like a Bolshevik party-card,
all the hundred books
of my
ComParty poems!

What's obscure about that?

(extracted from Mayakovsky and His Poetry, comp, ed, trans Herbert Marshall. Bombay: Pilot Press, 1955).

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