The cultural stratum of Oleg Choukhontsev’s poem “It’s nice to be a young officer…”

Abstract: 

This article is a part of an overall study of the prominent modern poet O. Choukhontsev’s poetry (1938) analyzing his poem “It’s nice to be a young officer…” (1974). This work is one of the so-called “Crimean” poems. In the poet’s artistic world, the southern land of Crimea is contrasted to a cold metropolis. This is the space of creative freedom, love and culture, as well as an ideology-free space. For the poet, freedom means not only falling out of a particular historical chronotope, but also a way out of time in genera l– the eternity seems to reign in Crimea. The real contact with the land of rich historical, cultural and religious traditions, taking their origin in antiquity, creates the feeling of breaking personal and temporal boarders. Choukhontsev tries to capture this subtle but no less distinct emotion in his Crimean poems.

Choukhonsev’s poem is related to the tradition of “infinitive poetry”, which focuses on the theme of the speculative compensations of unrealized desires, possibilities, and variants. But the poem goes beyond the infinitive complex, limited by “the character’s agency in a fictitious space”. Choukhontsev’s protagonist finds harmony in the real world, being satisfied with minimal needs.

The poet’s goal is to create a kind of Utopia. The prosaic primary source (Bunin’s memoirs about Chekhov), merging with a complicated unity of poetic motives (from Horace to the authors of the 20th century), becomes a poem of great symbolism.

Key words: 

O. Chukhontsev, semantics, subtext, verse form, style, historical realities.

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