Enjambements Of I. Turgenev’s Poems In The Context Of Russian Poetical Epos


In the rich heritage of I.Turgenev, his poems of the first half of the 40s occupy a modest place. In comparison with prose, they are less studied. They are practically not studied in aspects of versification. The enjambements of poems have not been studied at all, although they represent a vivid phenomenon of the poetic style of the works. In the article, the object of the research is the hyphenation of two poems written in 4-foot iambus, “Conversation” (1844) and “The Landowners” (1845). It clarifies the frequency and structure of the translations of these poems. The contexts for the specified poems were created by the author on the basis of a previously surveyed and published material on the 4-persuasive poem epic XIX-XXV. The shifts of “Talk” were considered in the context of summary data on 9 poems with continuous male clauses (in the context of “male epos”). “Landowner” enjambements in the context of summary data on 34 poems of free rhyming (in the context of a rhymed epic). The general context for both poems became the translations of Turgenev's early dramatic poem “Steno” (1834). The results obtained provide material for examining the lines of continuity in the genetic and typological plans. The work uses a method of identifying and a method of describing hyphens in six parameters developed and published earlier by the author of the article.

Keywords: Conversation,enjambementITurgenevThe Landownerpoemversification


Our appeal to the poems of I.S. Turgenev is caused by a great jubilee - the 200th anniversary of the writer's birth. The conducted bibliographic research has shown that Turgenev's poetry, with which his creative journey begins (30-40s of the XIX century), has not been studied enough. This conclusion applies primarily to questions of versification. In particular, only one work is devoted to the metric and stanza repertoire of Turgenev - the theses of the report by Kovalev (1993). In the past decade, observations have also appeared on the octaves of Turgenev's poems (Belousova, 2012). The poetic hypotheses that we are interested in (enjambements, further - enj ) have not been studied at all. True, the very fact of the appearance of translations in poems was noted by several scientists (Yampolsky, 1974; Brang, 1977; Belousova, 2012), but the translations were not the subject of special research. This article should fill in this gap in natural science and Turgenev’s studies.

Problem Statement

We state the problem and through the prism of the enj, we give a solution to the problem of the place of Turgenev in the history of the Russian poetic epos. The Russian poetic epos, which began with the poem of A.S. Pushkin “Ruslan and Lyudmila”, 1817-1820, developed mainly in 4-foot iambus. This metric form was perceived by contemporaries (and descendants as well) as a sign of the “Pushkin tradition” (Gasparov, 2000). Therefore, of the five poems of Turgenev of the first half of the 1940s (“Parasha”, “Conversation”, “Pop”, “The Landowner”, “Andrew”) we considered it expedient to analyze only poems written in tetrameter (“Conversation”, 1844, and “The Landowner”, 1845 (the remaining poems are in pentameters).

Research Questions

The stated problem requires solving several tasks. Among them: 1) to identify in the poems all the enj and determine their frequency; 2) describe the structure of enj; 3) identify contexts for the poems in question; 4) establish lines of succession with predecessors; 5) to consider the lines of continuity in the genetic and typological plans. 6) to compare the identified features of verse forms with the reception of ideas, motives, situations.

Purpose of the Study

In solving the problems posed, substantial data will be provided by the previously retrieved and published (Matyash, 2017) statistical data on tetrametrical poems of the 19-20 centuries - from “Ruslan and Lyudmila” (1817-1820) by A. Pushkin to “After Distance – Distance” (1950-1960) by A. Tvardovsky. A total of 43 poems were examined (35714 lines). These materials are used further to form the contexts of Turgenev’s poems.

When solving task No. 6 (in our list), we interpreted judgments of contemporaries and Turgenev experts about the presence in Turgenev's poems of ideas, motives, situations created under the influence of A.Pushkin (Fridman, 1969; Mostovskaya, 1997; Fokina, 2016), M. Lermontov (Glukhov, 1981; Vakhromeeva, 2014; Kafanova, 2014) or both of the great predecessors (Yampolsky, 1974).

Research Methods

Verse enjambements in Turgenev's poems were identified by the method of the author of the article (Matyash, 2015). According to this method, the role of in-verse pause, which Zhirmunsky (1975) pointed out as early as the 20th century (see also Taranovsky, 1963) should be recognized, but this role should not be absolutized. Transfer occurs only when vertical syntactic links (between lines) turn out to be stronger than horizontal ones (in a line). Compare, for example, in "Conversation":

«Chto mne do nih! Bol'shoj cenoj

Kupil ja pravo nikogda

Ne vspominat' o zhiznin toj.

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(The text is cited hereafter and under the citation (Turgenev, 1978); the words standing in the enj are underlined, the words with which the syntactic connection is formed vertically are in italics). In the above text there is no enj between the first and second lines, despite the presence of an in-line pause and, on the contrary, there is between the second and third lines in the absence of an in-line pause. When “weighting” the power of syntactic relations, we relied on the hierarchy of syntactic relations developed by Gasparov and Skulacheva (2004).

The structure of enj was described by the following parameters: 1) the ratio of types of rejet (r), contre-rejet (c-r), double-rejet (d-r); 2) the ratio of male (m) and female (F) top-line clauses (there are no dactylic clauses in Turgenev's poems); 3) the ratio of male (m), female (g) and dactylic (d) floor sections in the bottom line (for r + d-r); 4) the range of intervals between syntactically related words (vertically); 5-6) the set and frequency of syntactic links vertically.

The first of the listed parameters in traditional poetry; other parameters are proposed by the author.


Using the method described above, we obtained a numerical characteristic of the frequency and structure of the enj of Turgenev's poems. The statistics are given in three tables. In addition to the data on the “Conversation” and “The Landowner”, the tables include data in three contexts that are needed to solve the problem posed in the article. The first context is the early experience of the dramatic verse - the dramatic poem “Steno”, 1834, which, as we will try to show, is important for the subsequent poetic practice of Turgenev. For “Conversation”, whose tetrameter had, solid male clauses, we attracted the context of “male epos”, which was created by summing up the data on poems with male clauses (except for “Conversation”, male epos was composed of “Chillon Prisoner” J .Byron in the translation of V.Zhukovsky, “The Beggar” by A.Podolinsky, “The Last Son of Liberty”, "Confession", “Boyar Orsha”, “Mtsyri”, by M. Lermontov, “OlimpRadin”, “Death Pang” by Ap. Grigoriev (data for each poem separately in (Matyash, 2017). We analyze the “Landowner” in context of a rhymed poetic epic, created by summing up data about 34 poems of the “Pushkin Tradition” (see their list and statistics in (Matyash, 2017).

The frequency of enj of the poems in question is presented in the first column of Table 1 . As we can see, in “Conversation” it is equal to 17.2%. This is a very high indicator not only in the context of the same indicator for all the previously surveyed poems of tetrameter (7.0%), but also in the context of the “male epic”, where the total figure is 13.6%. The high frequency indicator is in “Conversation” can be explained by external and internal factors. The external factor is the general trend of frequency increase in the male epic: from 10.1% in “Chillon's Prisoner”, 1821-1822, to 13.9% in “Mtsyri”, 1839, and to 24.8% in “Olimp Radin”, 1845. The internal factor is Turgenev's own experience in the dramatic verse of the early “Steno”, 1834, where the frequency exceeded 30% (“Steno”, created under the influence of Byron’s “Manfred”, we consider - similarly to the “Chillon Prisoner” - as a fact of Russian poetry).

Table 1 -
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In “The Landowner” there are even more enj than in “The Conversation”. The increase in enj in this poem is all the more eloquent because in the “rhymed epic” the total figure is much less than in the “male” – only 5.7%. The epic of free rhyming began with a frequency of 2-4%. Significant growth of indices in the late poems of Pushkin and Lermontov’s poems we have previously associated with the influence of the drama verse (Matyash, 2017), so the experience of Turgenev in the dramatic verse “Steno” turns out to be typologically close to the experiences of Pushkin and Lermontov.

The types of hyphenation in Turgenev's poems can be illustrated with the text from “The Conversation”.

Vnezapno pereletnyj shum (r)

Promchalsja … Sumrachen, ugrjum,

Stojalstarik … no taksvetlo (d-r)

Struilas' rechka … takteplo (s-r)

Kosnulsja mjagkij veterok

Ego volos …

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The proportion of types, presented in table 01 , demonstrates the innovation of Turgenev. Let us explain this. In the Russian tetrametrical epic of free rhyming, the type of c-r prevailed significantly (in “Ruslan and Ludmila” it was 70.7% in poems of the followers of Pushkin it reached 85.0%). Over time, the share of c-r decreased, but an average of 55.5% indicates leadership of this type. In the “male epic” the share of c-r was always lower, which reflects the average of 48.2. Against this background, it is clear that Turgenev, firstly, connects to the tradition of the reduction of the archaic type, and secondly, strengthens this tradition, because in his poems a new leader is put forward - d-r. This type overtook with c-r and in "Conversation", and - especially - in the "Landlord". Here again the role of the “Steno” experience is seen, in the dramatic verse of which d-r accounted for over 60% [in certain places of the text d-r form cascades: «<…> Von tam / Mel'knula barka, kak pred burej / Nad morem chajka… Tiho, tiho / Kolyshetsja ugrjumyj les. <…>»]. To this we add another observation. By this parameter, “The Conversation” is closest to “Mtsyri”: in the poem of Lermontov, c-r was reduced by increasing d-r, and not the type of r, like many other poets.

The structure of the enj on the second parameter (the ratio of the M and F clauses of the upper line) is considered, of course, only in “The Landowner". The data in Table 02 show that Turgenev’s poem clearly shows the tendency of marking the clause with the male clause, i.e. «Lakej provorno golovoj / Kivnul. <…>» is more preferable than «Japrav. Moislova – ne fraza / Pustaja, net! <…>». At the early stage of “rhymed epos”, enj were marked by M, which were in the range of 60-70%. With the development of enj the need of such marking ceased, which reflects the reduced average indicator of M. In “The Landlord" indicator of M is higher, i.e. according to this parameter, the “Landowner” actualizes the tradition of distant predecessors.

Table 2 -
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In the bottom lines, partitions of the transferred part of the phrase (in types r, d-r) might be male – m [«On byl s chuvstvitel'nojdushoj / Rozhden; <…>], female f [«Hotite vy kartinoj bala / Zanjat'sja? <…>»], dactylic – d [«Itak, na bale my. Parket / Otlichno vyloshhen.<…>»]. (Examples from „The Lanowner”).

Table 02 shows the proportion of m and d (f is the remaining part of total 100%). Specific of enj of “The Conversation” based on this parameter of the structure - a high indicator of m, exceeding the average in the “male epic”. The specific feature of the “Landowner” is a high index of d, almost twice the average in the “rhymed epic”. Indicators m suggest that Turgenev is constantly changing the structure of enj; indicators d suggest that the poet picks up and even exaggerates their tendency of growth (initially, either they were completely absent or there were just few). Indicators d in “Steno” remind of their significant role.

The range of spacing between syntactically related (vertical) words in Table 02 is represented by the indicators of links: contact – c («Pod samym gorodom zhila / Pomeshhica v teple da v hole») and distant – d («Uselis' mamen'ki. Odna / Ljubeznoj vazhnosti polna» (Examples from „The Landowner”).

In both poems c is twice as large as d. This speaks of Turgenev's innovative search. Initially, c and d constituted an approximate equilibrium (with the exception of the demand of the “Chillon prisoner”). In chronological perspective, there is an increase in c, which was particularly intense in the “male epic”. Indicators of c in Turgenev's poems are higher than in the “male epic” (in particular, in “The Conversation” is higher than in “Mtsyri”, where k is 54.9%). Here again the role of the verse "Steno" is revealed.

The set and frequency of syntactic links are presented in Table 03 . The link abbreviation belongs to Gasparov and Skulacheva (2004). These tables speak of a fairly wide range of syntactic links in both poems, especially in “The Landowner”. Leading ones are circumstance-based – Ob [«I dljachego? No jatogda / Ne znalljudej… <…>» „The Conversation”]. Second place in „The Conversation” take additional links with indirect addition – Dk [«<…>I dobrodushno lish' soboj / Ty zanjat;<…>»], while in „The Landowner” – predicative – Pr [«Vernulsja pod rodimyjkrov / Pomeshhik… <…>].

These connections are leaders in the "male epic" and "rhymed" one. We have previously established (Matyash, 2017) that new trends in the structure of the Russian verse in the epic are manifested in the growth of Sv. (superstrong links between the parts of the predicate) and Op (determinative). Now we see that these tendencies are most clearly manifested in the “male epic”, and in Turgenev, not in “Conversation”, but in the “Landowner”.

Table 3 -
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The contextual review of enj in Turgenev's poems showed the following. 1) The poems “The Conversation” and “The Landowner” are an important link in the overall picture of the evolution of the Russian poetic epic. 2) Turgenev shows knowledge of the basic trends of verse development; he exaggerates many tendencies. 3) For innovative searches in his poems, early experience of dramatic verse in the dramatic poem “Steno” was of great importance. 4) The conclusion about the role of the dramatic verse gives grounds for the typological convergence of Turgenev's experience with the experiences of Pushkin and Lermontov. 5) The relationship between the reception of ideas, motives, situations and the reception of the structure of the predecessor's verse is not rigid.


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20 April 2020

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Discourse analysis, translation, linguistics, interpretation, cognition, cognitive psychology

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Matyash, S. A. (2020). Enjambements Of I. Turgenev’s Poems In The Context Of Russian Poetical Epos. In & A. Pavlova (Ed.), Philological Readings, vol 83. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 366-372). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2020.04.02.40