(1819 – 1898)
Polonsky Yakov Petrovich (1819 – 1898), a poet. Born December 6 (18 N. s.) In Ryazan in a poor noble family. He studied at the Ryazan gymnasium, after which he entered the law faculty of Moscow University. In his student years he began to write and publish his poems in
Otechestvennye Zapiski (1864), Moskvityanin (The Fatherland Notes) and in the student almanac Underground Keys (1842). He is friends with A. Grigoriev, A. Fet, P. Chaadayev, T. Granovsky, I. Turgenev.
In 1844 he published the first collection of poems by Polonsky “Gamma”, which attracted the attention of critics and readers.
After graduation, he lived in Odessa. There he published a second collection of poems “1845”.
In 1846, Polonsky moved to Tiflis, entered the office and simultaneously worked as an assistant editor of the newspaper “Transcaucasian Gazette.” While in Georgia, Polonsky turns to prose (articles and essays on
ethnography), publishing them in the newspaper.
Georgia inspired him to create in 1849 a book of poems “Sazandar” (Singer), in 1852 – a historical play “Daredjan Imeretinskaya”.
Since 1851 Polonsky lived in Petersburg, from time to time going abroad. Collections of poems of the poet (1855 and 1859) were kindly received by various critics.
In 1859 – 60 was one of the editors of the magazine “Russian Word”.
In the public literary struggle of the 1860’s Polonsky did not take part on the side of any of the camps. He defended the poetry of “love,” contrasting it with the poetry of “hatred” (“For the few”, 1860, “Poet-citizen”, 1864), although he recognized the impossibility of love “without pain” and life beyond the problems of modernity (“To one of the tired” , 1863). In those years his poetry was sharply criticized by radical democrats. I. Turgenev and N. Strakhov defended the attacks of Polonsky’s original talent, emphasizing his “worship of everything beautiful
and high, serving truth, good and beauty, love of freedom and hatred of violence.”
In 1880 – 90 Polonsky was a very popular poet. In those years he returned to the themes of his early lyrics. Around him, the most diverse writers, artists, scientists. He is very attentive to the development of Nadson and Fofanov.
In 1881, the collection “At sunset”, in 1890 – “Evening ringing”, imbued with motives of sadness and death, reflections on the fleetingness of human happiness.
From 1860 to 1896 Polonsky served in the Committee of Foreign Censorship, in the Council of the General Directorate of Press, which gave him the means to exist.
Polonsky died on October 18 (30 N. S.) in 1898 in St. Petersburg. He was buried in Ryazan.
A short biography from the book: Russian writers and poets. A short biographical dictionary. Moscow, 2000.