January 8, 2008

Poetry to Shake Your Fist at

Vladimir Mayakovsky was futurist Russian poet who lived and wrote during early socialist/Soviet Russian. From most accounts, the man was a blunt womanizing bully of a poet yet somehow his talent made him endearing. He's even been called the "raging bull of Russian poetry." Irving Well tells a story about how once when Mayakovsky was asked to sign a visitor's book he threw it on the floor and stomped on it with his muddy boot as a signature.

As you may have guessed, he's responsible for the ostentatious yet simple visual above. It's a support poster for the socialists and the translation (from wikipedia) is as follows:
1. Do you want to conquer coldness?
2. Do you want to conquer hunger?
3. Do you want to eat?
4. Do you want to drink?
Hurry up to join the strike team of exemplary labor.

The just don't make um like they used to. The story gets even better though. Mayakovsky wrote a poem about making this and other posters. The poem's title translates to: "AN EXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURE WHICH HAPPENED TO ME, VLADIMIR MAYAKOVSKY, ONE SUMMER IN THE COUNTRY." It's about how Mayakovsky is sitting around in his cottage, minding his own business, making Soviet propaganda posters. The ceiling has a hole that the sun shines through and upsets the hard working Mayakovsky. So, what does he do? He runs outside and yells to the sun:
"Hey, wait there!
Listen, golden brightbrow,
instead of vainly
setting in the air,
have tea with me
right now!"

And the sun comes down and has tea with him. The resulting converstation convinces the poet that the sun is not such a bad guy after all. Mayakovsky excuses the sun back up to the sky. This page has a translation of this and other poems by the Russian.


Diggs said...

Picture on the bottom right looks like a prototype for Wario Smooth Moves. DRINK! DRINK! DRINK!

the unbeatable kid said...

Lenin was a huge fan of Smooth Moves.