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Chaosmos : observations on the stanza form of Anna Akhmatova's 'Poem without a hero'.

Harrington, A. (2007) 'Chaosmos : observations on the stanza form of Anna Akhmatova's 'Poem without a hero'.', Slavonica., 13 (2). pp. 99-112.


Recent critical observations on Akhmatova's Poema bez geroia (Poem Without a Hero) are drawn together, suggesting that it detaches itself from modernism and moves beyond it in various ways. These ideas are then extended in relation to the poem's innovative stanza form. It is argued that Poem represents a conscious attempt to revive the formalism and spirit of experimentation that was characteristic of the Silver Age. Akhmatova both demonstrates and celebrates modernist poetics, but ultimately exceeds modernism by establishing a new poetical system which regards modernism with considerable irony. The unusual stanza constitutes an important part of this dual desire both to revive, and to establish a distance from, Silver Age modernism. The stanza manifests a peculiar capacity for variation and frequently departs from its basic structure, so that previous descriptions of Akhmatova's stanza in scholarship discern both regularity and a capricious elasticity. This paradoxical combination of order with unpredictability suggests that the stanza might usefully be characterized — employing scientific discourse as a metaphor — as a kind of chaotic system. It furnishes Akhmatova with a means of establishing a dialogue with chaos at the level of prosody which constitutes a formal expression of the theme of disintegration and chaos which is central to the poem.

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Record Created:22 Jan 2008
Last Modified:09 Sep 2011 14:46

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