Aleksandriiskiia pesni [Alexandrian songs].

St Petersburg, “Prometei”, [1921].

8vo, pp. 74 + 4 pp. advertisements; a good copy in the original printed wrappers, dust-soiled, spine worn and chipped at head and tail; with a contemporary ms. gift inscription in ink to fly-leaf, quoting from the first poem of the second cycle in the collection, ‘Liubov’ [Love].


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First separate edition of Kuzmin’s Alexandrian Songs, originally published as part of his first collection, Nets, in 1908. ‘Kuzmin’s fame as a poet rests largely with his cycle “Alexandrian Songs” (1905–1908). These are love poems with different personas, male and female, mostly homoerotic, stylized to reflect the sensibility of Alexandria in the age of Hadrian. One subcycle tells of a Roman soldier enamored of a distant Antinous, whose beauty overwhelms him at first sight. The poems are in unrhymed free verse, one of the few real successes in the writing of Russian free verse. The moods of the Mediterranean metropolis, its sights, sounds, and smells, provide a rich background to ingenuous and mostly serene declarations, confessions, and exultant boasts of love. The whole spirit of “Alexandrian Songs” is a credit to Russian poetry’s ability to project a sensibility so totally alien to Russian life’ (Terras).

Tarasenkov p. 198; not in Kilgour.

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