Marina Tsvetaeva on Monarchy

…Through otherworldly
Hall of Tsars.
– And who is this one
inexorable and marbled?

He is so majestically
embellished by gold.
– A miserable policeman
of Pushkin’s fame.

He condemned the author;
he cut manuscripts,
the beastly butcher
of the Polish land.

Look carefully –
Never forget:
the murderer of the poet
Tsar Nicolas
The First.

1931

(Translated by V. Enyutin)


Alexander Pushkin (1799 – 1837)


Tsar Nikolas I, 1796 – 1855 (Reign 1825 – 1855)

The semantic structure of the poem compiles what can be called “monarchic attributes” – through which Tsvetaeva poetically (sometimes hyperbolically) extends our understanding of the psychology of monarchs.

The first monarchic attribute, according to Tsvetaeva is to belong to the other world – “the otherworldly hall of tsars”, that is the marbled/golden immortality of tsars. Let’s following her, call it tsars’ “halliness” (don’t confuse it with holiness). In comparison with tsars, poets, for example, don’t have a hall, only a hole, hell and sometimes, posthumously, a hill.

The second monarchic attribute is to be inexorable (never consider anything outside his self-occupied self-image as the center of all attention).

The third monarchic attribute is being marbled (belonging to marbles, not to human race).

The fourth monarchic attribute is being majestic: to belong to a particular tautology of glory/glamour (that is a goal in itself and signifying only itself).

The fifth monarchic attribute is being framed by gold – not only dressed in clothes made of gold, but, probably, all in all from undergarment to body parts.

The sixth monarchic attribute is being a policeman by the call of the soul, who polices free speech and its ability to reveal the truth.

The seventh monarchic attribute is not only to be a policeman of free speech but to repress it by intimidation, incarceration and multiple forms of censorship (some of which are remarkably like those practiced by today’s democracies).

The eighth monarchic attribute is to invade and subdue other nations and countries if they dare to follow their own interests (instead of serving “our” interests) even if their interests are not adversarial to ours but just different (to interpret difference and independence/autonomy as an adversity).

The ninth monarchic attribute is to be able to absorb resistance without changing much in the manner of ruling over the population. What is left for us is to “look attentively“, to know and not forget what we have learned about despotism in order not to fall into sin of loyalty to tsars, kings, emperors, “gensecs” and (financial) “moneypulators”.

Each time when poet dares to expose monarchs’ plebeianism (aggrandized into glory) and nothingness (glamorized into plenitude), the ultimate victory of truth cannot be ruled out.

As we see in Tsvetaeva’s poem, poet’s influence is not other-worldly. It is the nature of earthly power to be other-worldly inspired and protected. Poet’s influence is appeal of life itself for recognition after eons of being subdued by the megalomania of supernatural trying to root itself within monarchy over life. Aren’t we Americans living today in monarchy that masks itself as a democracy? Of course, it is not autocratic monarchy, but one that is equally authoritarian.

How beautiful (and what an expression of refined taste!) that Tsvetaeva, one of the most emotionally subtle and intellectually sophisticated Russian language poets, allows herself to intonationally… hate this pathetic monarchic figure (in today’s language – just one of the comic strip super-heroes).


Marina Tsvetaeva (1892-1941)