The Youth and Death of Mira Lohvitskaya

Mira Lohvitskaya (1869 – 1905) was unfortunately overshadowed by the great number of other Russian female poets of the twentieth century even though in the beginning of the last century her poetry was considered among the best in the genre of “female poetry”. The critics nicknamed her “the Russian Sappho” for in all her poems there seems to be one prevalent theme – the theme of love. Her poems bring to life that ancient human feeling as old as the world itself:

I love you with greater passion then the fires of the setting sun;
Clearer then the mist and gentler then the most sacred of words;
A blinding arrow, cutting the clouds in the gloom;
No, I love you more then is possible to love on this earth.

Her poetry shines with a deep passion – where it seems she is willing to sacrifice her whole being for the pure enlightenment of love. And her confessions reveal a pure belief in her “sinful love”. Love plays over and over in her poetry – but does not tire itself out. One does not see Mira as she is – instead there appears a young beautiful woman, with long dark hair and eyes of a gypsy – and with her gracious lips she begins reciting her poetry, which like smoke fly to the heavens.

Born in 1869 to a distinguished family (her sister was a poet) she was most definitely influenced by the Romantic poets that came before her. At the end of the nineteenth century “pure lyricism” was not looked upon so kindly by the public, and poets more often performed in small circles of art lovers among friends and fellow poets then actually publishing their poems in periodicals. Lohvitskaya fit perfectly into these circles of young intellectuals. Her respectability as a poet was overshadowed by many scandals with other poets. Breathing with spiritual longing some poems were designed primarily to be confessional and extremely shocking to the nineteenth century ear:

The lust of poisonous pleasure
in darkness of unlit candles
relief half-enlightening and half-worried
from sighs and moans within the nights

In her youth she expressed that she wished to die young. She wished to go like one of the gods of Russian poetry like Pushkin, like Lermontov. She wanted to disappear like an artist seeing her doom – disappearing into the storm of life. To her the idea to die young – still beautiful, still gleaming with life, – to die not finishing, not completing, not growing to full wisdom – and (most importantly) to die in love – was tragically romantic.

. . . I want to die young!
Bury me to the side,
away from the tired, busy, roads,
where the willow bends to the waves,
where yellows the uneven, uncut gorse.
So the slumberous apples would bloom,
so the wind would breathe over me,
with aroma of a far away world . . .

She was married and had five children. And at the age of thirty-six she died from tuberculosis. Upon her death Bryusov, the Russian Symbolist, wrote: “For the future anthologies of Russian poetry there should be included at least 10 to 15 poems by Lohvitskaya. . . . the attentive reader will always be worried and fascinated by the inner drama of her soul which remains immortal in her poems.”



I wish to die in Spring
when the happiness of May returns
and when before me the whole world
is once again a sweet perfume

With a bright smile I will glance down
on all that I love in my life –
my death I’ll bless before my eyes
and then call it wonderful.

5 March 1893

Don’t kill the pigeons!
Their feathers white as snow,
their coo so gently
heard in gloom of worldly grief.
Where it is all – restless and bleak.
Don’t kill the pigeons!

Don’t tear out the cornflower!
Don’t be jealous or filled with greed.
The fields will give your their own seed,
and there’ll be always room for graves.
We don’t live off of just one bread ‘
Don’t tear out the cornflower!

Do not reject beauty!
It is immortal without smoke,
What glory is your poetry,
your hymns, and flowers?
A genius without it is powerless . . .
Do not reject beauty.


I want to die young,
Not in love, not saddened of no one.
To go down as a bright golden star,
fly apart like a still living flower.
And I want on my rock,
exhausted by long hostility,
people to find perfect bliss . . .
I want to die young!
Bury me to the side,
away from the tired, busy, roads,
where the willow bends to the waves,
where yellows the uneven, uncut gorse.
So the slumberous apples would bloom,
so the wind would breathe over me,
with aroma of a far away world . . .
I want to die young!
I’m not looking at the traveled path,
at the stupidity of wasted years,
I can die completely carefree,
if to finish singing my hymn.
Let the fire not spark to the end,
And in memory there’ll be one
that in life awakened the heart . . .
I want to die young!


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