Yevgeny Yevtushenko an outstanding modern poet, and novelist is known in Russia as a man of high merits. His extraordinary records in film production added feathers in the cap of Russian film.
Yevtushenko who was bom in Siberia in 1933 and later shifted to Moscow always remained in the limelight of controversies, due to his valiant attack on the dictatorial stances and fascistic tendencies in an undemocratic society. When he began to write poetry having the tinge of anti-Stalinism, dictatorship and official lies the known rebels from Russia such as Solzhinistyn, Sakharove, Pasternak, Grossman and Dudinsteve were nonexistent in the Russian cultural dome. His books under the titles of 'The face behind the face', 'Almost at the end', 'Poems of various years' 1959, 'Apple' 1960, A wave of the hand' 1962, 'Tenderness' 1962, 'My Russia' 1962, and a A precocious autobiography’ influenced many generations.
Yevtushenko does not endorse at any cost, the annihilation of human freedom and instinctive hankering in any political and social set up prevalent in any sector of the world. He is in favour of the theories of perestroika and glasnost proclaimed by Gorbachev, the ex-president of former USSR who was strictly against the imposition of the viewpoint emerged from the manifesto-oriented mechanical super-structure introduced by Stalin and his followers. After 1950 Yevtushenko and later on scores of other spirited writers and poets had begun to think seriously about their fate and secure future in Communist Russia where despotism was at its peak. They were hankering after the freedom of expression and the virtues of human liberties in a literary and social situation dominated by big mouth slogan mongers. In those days Yevtushenko wrote in a poem:
Borders bother me.
I am embarrassed
not knowing Buenos Aires
Then the day came when Gorbachev announced his humanistic theories. Talking to Gabriel Garcia Marqees, a phenomenal fiction writer from Latin America, as Newsweek reported on 25th April 1988, he said "We prefer socialism but do not impose our views on other people. Everyone should be free to chose his viewpoint.
In the same year Yevtushenko wrote" Glasnost was not created in a test tube. Glasnost is the child our country was pregnant with even in the most terrible times, and the boots of the Cheka could not knock that child out of its womb the way they did the child of pregnant Leningrad poet Olga Begolts in 1937. The blows on the womb carrying the unborn glasnost could not deform it before birth The overdue child was weak and seemed in danger of not surviving. The day of Stalin's death became its birthday But Stalin lived on after his death, and died slowly, sometimes feigning death, and still has not died completely. The tyrant's poisoned breath entered the infant's lungs, corroding him. The infant has weak muscles, fragile bones, but one thing was strong— its voice. The infant howled so loudly that it was heard not only throughout the country, but beyond its borders. The infant glasnost did not cry simply, it rhymed, the cry was poetry
Yevtushenko's predecessors Pushkin, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Alexander Blok, Chekhov, were also in search of human autonomy or liberty under the autocratic and opinionated regimes of Tzars and New Tzars. For Yevtushenko poetry is a savage war, it is not a chapel of peace. He says ' a poet should fight the war of life like a soldier.
And when he's right
he's right to try all things
when going through smoke and fire.
How should the slinking rats in the rear
understand how men
act under fire?
When Gorbachev decided to annihilate the close relationships of action and reaction, cause and effect and war and revolution it was thought he wanted to maintain status quo and denying the basic concept of class struggle written on the title of the manifesto of Communism. But when leaders from the Russian Communist party hailed his decisions the doubt could not get the reason to flourish.
Yevgeny Yevtushenko has also shown his categorical trust in glasnost. He rightly says, "The early poetry of my generation is the cradle of glasnost. In 1953' a twenty year? old poet from the Siberian Zima Junction began to understand two tragedies at the same time: the tragedy of 'word war II and the tragedy of the war Stalin and his henchmen were waging against their own people. Of course this understanding could not be deep because of the poet's inner immaturity and the lack of information." So as a child he wrote poems even in favour of Stalin. But the memories of political terror and fear of Stalin's period forced him to adopt the way of truth. Yevtushenko says
"Even children in those days could not avoid seeing the arrests, the dying, the leaders and the terrible fear. The instinct of terror imbued children, forcing them not to think about the crimes happening all around but the instinct of truth was stronger than the instinct of fear."
In Russia other writers like Vladimir Nobokov, Boris Pasternak, Sergey Yesenin, Yevgeniy Zamyatin and Mayakovsky too discover this rule that instinct of truth remains stronger than the instinct of fear.
Yevgeny Yevtushenko's poems ‘Irreconcilable, Envy, Deep Snow, Weddings, the Concert, A Career, To My Dog, Freshness, Humour, The Cocks, Girl Beatnik, Honey,'' Hail In Kharkove,' 'Babii Yar,' 'Poetry,' "The Heirs of Stalin,' ' again at Zima Station,'' Fears,'' Cinderella,' and the 'Sighs,' contain political outlook as well as passion of love. Though his early poetry is romantic but many of their shades reflect his social and political viewpoint. He expresses his hatred for totalitarianism and raises his voice against the disgraceful 'collectivisation of human souls.' He is a great defender of personal Weltanschauung, private feelings and introspective thoughts. His poem Babii Yar depicts his passion against fascism. In Heir of Stalinism he condemns Stalin's despotism. He admires the theory of glasnost because it has delivered Russian people from criminal censorship and tyrannical observation of government agencies. George Reavey has translated several of his poems in a poetic collection under the title of Early Poems, I present here a poem from this collection.
Cowards have small possibilities
Fame is not won through silence,
out of caution,
are not time obliged to show courage.
Thus adders hustle to be hawks;
sensing the way the "wind is blowing,
they adapt themselves to courage
just as they have adapted themselves to lies