Sergei Aleksandrovich Yesenin born September 21, 1895 in Konstantinovo, Ryazan, Russia – died December 27, 1925 in St. Petersburg, Russia, was a poet.
Abandoned by his parents, Sergei Yesenin (also spelled as Esenin) lived with his grandparents and at a very early age began to write poetry. A literary prodigy, in 1912 he moved to Moscow where he supported himself working as a proof-reader in a printing company. The following year he enrolled in Moscow University as an external student and studied there for a year and a half . Through his writing poetry of Russian folklore, he became acquainted with Alexandr Blok, Sergei Gorodetsky, Nikolai Klyuev and Andrey Bely. Yesenin said that Bely gave him the meaning of form while Blok and Klyuev taught him lyricism.
In 1915, Sergei Yesenin published his first book of poems titled "Radumitsa." A poet of the ordinary people, Yesenin's writings frequently glorified Soviet Russia. Through his collections of poignant poetry about love and the simple life, he became the most popular poet of the day.
Blessed with good looks and a charming personality, he fell in love frequently and over a very short period was married five times. His first marriage was in 1913 to a co-worker from the publishing house by the name of Anna Romanovna Izryadnova with whom he had a son, Yuri. In 1937, Yuri Yesenin died in a labor camp. In 1916-1917, Sergei Yesenin was drafted into military duty and after the Revolution, married for a second time in 1918 to the actress Zinaida Raikh. With her he had a daughter Tatyana and a son Konstantin. In September of 1918, he founded his own publishing house that he called the "Moscow Labor Company of the Artists of Word."
In the fall of 1921, while visiting the studio of painter Alexei Yakovlev, he met the Paris-based American dancer Isadora Duncan. A woman 17 years his senior who spoke no Russian, and he no English, they communicated through passion but also well enough in the French language to be married a few months later on May 2, 1922. Yesenin accompanied his new celebrity wife on a tour of Europe and the United States but at this point in his life, an addiction to alcohol had gotten out of control. Often drunk or on drugs, his violent rages resulted in Yesenin destroying hotel rooms or causing disturbances in restaurants that received a great deal of publicity in the world's press. The marriage to Duncan lasted only a short time and in May of 1923 he returned to Moscow. There, he immediately became involved with actress Augusta Miklashevskaya as well as Galina Benislavskaya, and is believed to have married her in a civil ceremony after obtaining his divorce from Isadora Duncan. For Galina Benislavskaya, Sergei Yesenin was an obsession and a year after his death she committed suicide at his grave.
Yesenin's behavior grew increasing reckless and that same year he had a son Alexandr by the poet Nadezhda Volpin. Sergei Yesenin never knew his son by Volpin, but Alexander Esenin-Volpin grew up to become a prominent poet and activist in the Soviet Union's dissident movement of the 1960s with Andrei Sakharov and others. After moving to the United States, Esenin-Volpin became a respected mathematician.
The last two years of his life were filled with constant erratic and drunken behavior, but he continued to produce quality works of poetry. In the Spring of 1925, a highly volatile Sergei Yesenin met and married his fifth wife, Sophia Andreyevna Tolstoya, a granddaughter of Leo Tolstoy. She attempted to get him help but he suffered a complete mental breakdown and was hospitalized for a month. On his release at Christmas, two days later he cut his wrist and wrote a farewell poem in his own blood, then hanged himself from the heating pipes on the ceiling of his St. Petersburg hotel room.
Although he was one of Russia's most popular poets and had been given an elaborate funeral by the State, during the Stalin oppression most of his writings were banned by the Kremlin but in 1966 his complete works were all republished. Today, Sergei Yesenin's poems are still being memorized by school children and some have been set to music, recorded as popular songs. Because of his lack of appeal amongst the literary elite and his adoration by ordinary people, the attention his love life received and dying young helped create an enduring and near mythical image of the young Russian poet.
Sergei Yesenin is interred in Moscow's Vagankovskoye Cemetery. His grave is marked by a white marble sculpture.
Some of Sergei Yesenin's works:
The Scarlet of the Dawn (1910)
The high waters have licked (1910)
The Birch Tree (1913)
The Bitch (1915)
I'll glance in the field (1917)
I left the native home (1918)
Hooligan's Confession (1920)
I am the last poet of the village (1920)
Prayer for the First Forty Days of the Dead (1920)
I don't pity, don't call, don't cry (1921)
One joy I have left (1923)
A Letter to Mother (1924)
Tavern Moscow (1924)
Confessions of a Hooligan (1924),
Desolate and Pale Moonlight (1925)
The Black Man (1925)
Goodbye, my friend, goodbye (1925) (His farewell poem)