Apollon Maykov: A Russian Poet’s Journey through the 19th Century

Apollon Maykov

Apollon Maykov, a prominent poet of the 19th century, was born in Moscow on June 4, 1821. As a leading figure in Russian literature, Maykov’s journey through the 19th century is nothing short of fascinating. He brought a distinctive voice and style to the world of poetry, which resonated with readers and critics alike. His works, both published and unpublished, reflect the unique cultural and historical context of Russia during this transformative period.

Maykov’s early years were spent in an atmosphere that fostered his love for literature. Coming from a family of scholars and artists, he was exposed to the works of renowned Russian writers such as Alexander Pushkin and Mikhail Lermontov. Consequently, this exposure influenced his writing and ignited a passion for poetry. As a young man, Maykov studied at Saint Petersburg University, where he had the opportunity to interact with and learn from other talented writers and scholars.

Apollon Maykov’s poetic journey truly began in the 1840s when he debuted his first collection of poems. His early works were heavily influenced by romanticism, a literary movement that emphasized emotion, nature, and individualism. However, as time went on, his style evolved to include elements of realism and classical themes. His ability to fuse these diverse influences resulted in a unique voice that set him apart from his contemporaries.

Apollon Maykov’s journey through the 19th century culminated with his recipient of the prestigious Pushkin Prize from the The Russian Academy of Sciences. This recognition was a testament to his immense contribution to Russian literature and the arts. Despite facing numerous challenges, he remained committed to his craft and continued to produce works of immense quality and depth.

Apollon Maykov’s journey through the 19th century is a remarkable story of a poet’s unwavering dedication to his craft. His ability to adapt and evolve his style while remaining true to his roots set him apart from other poets of his time. Today, Maykov’s works continue to be celebrated and cherished as an integral part of Russian literary heritage.

Photo by Ellie Burgin | Pexels

To Sleep

When shadows pale are sinking in hues the twilight weaves,
Upon the golden grain fields of gleaming wheaten sheaves-
Upon the emerald pastures and blue of forests deep,
When the soft mists of silver o’er the sea doth creep;
When ‘mid the reeds, the swan’s head is pillowed ‘neath her wings,
The stream to sleep is rocking, light flowing as she sings,-
Then to my hut o’er thatched with golden straw,- o’er grown
By frail acacia green and leafy oaks, I turn.
And there with greeting holy, in radiant starry crown-
Her scented locks with deepest of purple poppies bound,
And with one dusky gauze enveiled her snowy breast-
The Goddess comes to me with sweet desire of rest.
A faint and roseate fire about my brow she sheds,
Soft mystery of azure above my eyelids spreads,
Bends low upon my breast her regal star-crowned tresses
And on my mouth and eyes, the kiss of slumber presses!

-Apollon Maykov

Curated by Jennifer

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