The poetic world of Nekrasov is surprisingly rich and diverse. The talent with which his nature generously rewarded, and extraordinary diligence helped the poet to create such multi-voiced and melodious lyrics.
The end of 1850-1860 is the time of Nekrasov’s ideological and artistic maturity, when he approached revolutionary democracy. In 1856 he published a book of his poems, which was a huge success. The collection was opened with a poem “Poet and Citizen”, which became a poetic manifesto of a new democratic, revolutionary trend in literature. In “Poet and Citizen” the social, ideological orientation of poetry was proclaimed, and its active participation in public life was affirmed. Thus, it is devoted to the eternal theme of the appointment of the poet and poetry.
Nekrasov developed in his poem an understanding of the political orientation of poetry, which the Decembrists shared. In the famous words of the Citizen – “You can not
be a poet, / But a citizen must be” – repeated Decembrist understanding of the role of the poet, compressed and vigorously expressed Rileyev’s verse: “I’m not a poet, but a citizen.”
The poem is written in the form of a dialogue – a dispute between a citizen and a poet who encourages a talented poet to raise his voice in defense of the destitute, miserable, orphans. He will do his duty if it makes it easier for at least one, but the poet is able to help thousands, he should not remain silent. Perifraz “the chosen one of the sky” acquires in this context a symbolic meaning:
And you, the poet, the chosen one of the sky,
The herald of the truths of the ages,
Do not believe that the indigent bread
Do not be prophetic of your strings.
Thus, the author calls on creators to cover the lives of all people, not just those in power. The purpose of poetry is to uncover the vices of society, to correct them:
Be a citizen! Serving the art,
For the welfare of the neighbor live,
His genius subordinating the feeling
poetic size, which is written “Poet and Citizen” – iamb, which leads to a rigid intonation of reading. This is what the author sought. The topic stated in the title requires a serious approach.
Through the lips of a citizen, Nekrasov calls on the poet to give his country not only talent, but also life, to be ready for self-sacrifice for the sake of a just cause:
Go to the fire for the honor of our country.
For conviction, for love…
Go and perish flawlessly.
You will not die in vain: the case is secure.
When the blood flows under him…
These words, which expressed the moral principles of the revolutionary democrats, found a warm response in the hearts of Russia’s advanced youth.
The poem is a dramatic reflection of the poet on the relationship between high citizenship and poetic art. We have a hero at the crossroads and, as it were, personifying the emerging disharmony between “civil poetry” and “pure art”.
The work is imbued with a civil feeling. In it, Nekrasov equates two words-concepts (poet, citizen), urging the poet to wake up from negligence and inaction, to engage in the struggle for the good of the people:
It’s embarrassing to sleep with your talent.
More ashamed in the time of grief
The beauty of the valleys, heaven and sea
And caressing sweet caresses…
The poet doubts the might of his forces, in the ability to show these forces for the good of the Motherland. But the citizen inspires him to exploit in the name of the public good:
Therefore you can not be
But a citizen must be.
And what is a citizen?
Fatherland worthy son.
This is the person who is responsible for everything that happens in the homeland, is experiencing setbacks and rejoices at the achievements of the country. He wears her “ulcers” as his own.
The citizen convinces the poet that his role in the life of society is significant and requires from him not only artistic talent, but also civil convictions. The feelings of the lyrical hero in the poem vary from irony to the citizen, from a sense of superiority over him to resentment of himself. Then – to the feeling of irreversible loss of human and creative values, and then, in the last monologue, to gloomy anger. The movement of feelings in a citizen comes from the requirement to “smash vices boldly,” “expose evil” to understand the necessary and active struggle. In essence, we are not facing a duel of two opponents, but a mutual search for a true answer to the question of the role of the poet and the appointment of poetry in public life.