Dialogue – Monologue – Silence in Early Love Lyrics of Osip Mandelshtam


  • Oleg Lekmanov Национальный университет Узбекистана им. Мирзо Улугбека, Факультет зарубежной филологии; Princeton University, Принстонского университета




Mandelstam, love lyrics, “Siletium”, volume of poetry Stone, Russian poetry


In this article the reasons are discussed for early Osip Mandelshtam’s refusal to publish his poems about love. There is also a discussion about how the poet disguised the love theme in the lyrics written in the period 1909–1910. The poem “Silentium” is shown to be the key to Mandeshtam’s early love poems. In this poem Mandelshtam narrowed the theme down to Fyodor Tyutchev’s poem of the same name – “Silentium!”. Mandelshtam’s poem, unlike Tyutchev’s, is not about any one person as opposed to the rest of humanity, but about the poet himself and his rejection of erotic verse. This article goes on to compare the poems about love contained in the first and second editions of Mandelshtam’s début volume of poetry Stone (Камень) with poems not included in this volume. It is shown that in these latter poems the poet expressed himself with less restraint. When choosing poems for the first and second editions of Stone, Mandelshtam only occasionally and, so to speak, “illegitimately” broke the rule he had set for himself in “Silentium” regarding love lyrics: “May my lips acquire /primeval muteness”. This leads to the conclusion that love played, not an insignificant, but rather an excessively large role in Mandelshtam’s life, and that it was precisely for this reason that he feared assigning it too large a place in his poetry. Erotic emotion overwhelmed the poet and threatened to deprive him of the desire to write poetry and make him think of nothing but the satisfaction of sexual desire.


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How to Cite

Lekmanov, O. (2023). Dialogue – Monologue – Silence in Early Love Lyrics of Osip Mandelshtam. Acta Universitatis Lodziensis. Folia Litteraria Rossica, (16), 103–114. https://doi.org/10.18778/1427-9681.16.09