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Dudareva, M. A. (2021). The Apophatic Horizon of Russian Poetry, or What Yesenin’s Maple Saw. Heritage of Centuries, (1), 93-99. https://doi.org/10.36343/SB.2021.25.1.007

The Apophatic Horizon of Russian Poetry, or What Yesenin’s Maple Saw

  • © Dudareva Marianna A. Cand. Sci. (Russian Literature), Senior Lecturer, RUDN University (The Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia), Moscow, Russian Federation https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4950-2322


The apophaticism of Russian language and culture, which manifests itself at the conceptual level of the language, has formed a problem field of research. The aim of the article is to analyze a method for creating an apophatic effect associated with Thanatos and Eros in the Russian version of logocentrism. At the center of the research is the apophatic component of Russian artistic verbal culture. The material for the study was the text of Sergey Yesenin’s well-known late poem “Oh My Dear Maple, Frozen Stiff and Bare”. The methodology is reduced to a holistic analysis of the literary text using an onto-hermeneutic approach and a semantic method of research, which can bring the recipient closer to the apophatic horizon of poetry. The author notes the presence in the poetic text of two ethoses – of life and of death, which are marked in the poem by the dendronyms “maple” and “birch”, respectively. In Yesenin’s poetic world, the role of dendronyms is great: through the images of the maple and the birch, the poet’s ideas about the world, which coincide with the folklore archaic ones, are revealed. Yesenin’s maple is anthropomorphic, it is more than just a tree: there is a tree code that functions in the poet’s artistic world and takes on different forms. The symbolic ambiguity and anthropomorphism of both the maple and the birch create an apophatic effect in the poem. The author of the article draws parallels with the folklore tradition, the fairy tale, for which the search for “another kingdom”, also apophatic in nature, is axiologically and ontologically important. Through myth and folklore, it is possible to decode the dark apophatic places in Yesenin’s authorial word. The study results in the identification of the ontological plan of “Oh My Dear Maple, Frozen Stiff and Bare”, which is associated with the apophatic questions and the thanatological subtext in the poem. In modern research paradigms, apophaticism has moved from the purely theological and philosophical spheres to the problem field of cultural studies. Thinking about the art of words and the “yesterday” of our art in the apophatic aspect helps to approach the comprehension of ultimate essences, the absolutes of culture: among others, the phenomenon of death as a value of culture, and the ethos of life, which has also become apophatic and thanatological. Thus, it is possible to trace the vertical transmission of culture through an appeal to the myth and folklore that inspire Yesenin’s artistic existence.

Keywords: apophaticism of culture, apophatic horizon, folklore, myth, “another kingdom”, Yesenin’s poetics, ethos