Blok, Aleksander (БЛОК, АЛЕКСАНДР) (1880–1921) By White, Frederick H.
One of Russia’s greatest twentieth-century poets, Aleksander Aleksandrovich Blok (1880–1921) was a representative of the ‘second wave’ of Russian Symbolists. Two books of poetry, Verses on a Beautiful Lady (1904) and Inadvertent Joy (1907), and his lyric drama, The Showbooth, staged in 1906, made him famous. Paradoxically, Blok began to openly mock his former Symbolist ideals after 1905, even as he was considered by many to be the leader of Russian Symbolism. In particular, Blok was concerned with the widening gulf between the common people and the intelligentsia. As his disillusionment deepened, his poetry was haunted by a sense of imminent catastrophe. Therefore, his initial response to the revolution of 1917 was positive, seeing in it an apocalyptic moment that would bring renewal and regeneration after a period of chaos and destruction. This idea was realized in his poem The Twelve (1918) which celebrates the October Revolution and placed Christ at the head of a gang of Red Army soldiers. Blok, however, soon realized that the Bolsheviks would not embody the revolutionary ideals that he wished to support, causing him to become disenchanted and deeply depressed. Blok only lived for another three and a half years, dying in August 1921.