FROM DESIRE TO DESIRE by Yevgeny Yevtushenko


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This collection of love poems by the best-known of contemporary Soviet poets can at best be described as an equivocal failure. Not all of the poems are new; and in many of them, Yevtushenko is still commuting between his vaporous cities of ""Yes"" and ""No,"" with nerves ""strained like wires"" against what becomes, in this volume, the alternating passion and banality of his affections. In ""I Dreamed I Already Loved you,"" for example, the persona of the poem imagines himself in love with a woman who, by virtue of his ardor, he thinks he's ""already killed""; but this fantasy is stripped of color by the poem's main point--that the speaker feels too old and tired to do anything at all. And in the long title poem, the few clear images of desire and satiety are smothered with empty aphorisms and disconnected emotional impressions. In fact, the delightful moments in the book serve mainly to address the fundamental weakness in most of this confused and sentimental poetry: Yevtushenko works so hard to render the effects of his disillusionments, fidelities, and longings, that he rarely gives a glimpse of the objects of his feelings, let alone of the real problems of loving in totalitarian Russia or elsewhere. Ultimately, the book is tiresome to read.

Pub Date: Oct. 8th, 1976
Publisher: Doubleday