As the title claims this is a collection of poetry alongside a play by Mayakovsky called the Bedbug,
Mayakovsky has written my favourite poem of all time and this collection of his poetry is superb. It is collated chronologically and his poems start out long and beautiful, but towards the end they become staccato-ish and short of breath and he battles more and more. The subjects are bleeding in love or stern and severe. The last poems also tend to be very political and thus harder to connect with, moving away from the personal and into something akin to a call to arms.
The last final poem was written before he committed suicide and it seems to once more return the poetry to peace. It is heartbreaking to see him lose himself, running faster and faster and, seemingly, only at the end find the calm, quiet acceptance.
If I were
as the Great Ocean
I’d tiptoe on the waves
and woo the moon like the tide.
Where shall I find a beloved,
a beloved like me?
She would be too big for the tiny sky!
It is a weird turn from the poetry to his play. The play was written in a day, and like Vladimir, I love you man, but maybe it also kind of shows. It surprised me, after reading his poetry, that the play was almost a little bit sci-fi-ish, bringing out more of the playful side of Mayakovsky. In The Bedbug a man is frozen and woken 50 years later in a weird society that I could never figure out was meant to be dystopian or not. The man becomes a specimen, along with the titular bedbug, that is exhibited in a zoo. People come to watch him finding him crude with his penchant for smoking, cursing and music. As with his poetry I am not quite sure what the politics was, but it could be because I am far removed from Russian socialism. Fervent calls to comrades reads a pretty ridiculous to my beige Scandinavian sensibilities. It’s probably a really good idea to be into politics reading this, which I am not.
The book is probably especially interesting to those learning Russian as the alternating pages have kept the original Russian poems to be shown along side the translations. Sadly I know no Russian.
I will always recommend Mayakovsky’s poetry, but the play is skippable.