Yevgeny Yevtushenko (1933-2017) Tribute List

Poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko died on April 1, 2017 at the age of 83. Yevtushenko was a very important poet in Russia in the period after the death of Stalin, writing about anti-Semitism and injustice at time when it was still dangerous to do so. Yevtushenko was immensely popular, even giving poetry readings in sports stadiums on occasion to crowds hanging on his every word. Yevtushenko's keen eye for detail and sense of humor enliven his work on all kinds of subjects, not just the political poems. Here are 10 vocabulary words from the work and wisdom of Yevgeny Yevtushenko.

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. callous
    emotionally hardened
    In my blood there is no Jewish blood. In their callous rage, all anti-Semites must hate me now as a Jew. For that reason I am a true Russian.
    - "Babi Yar"
  2. diffident
    showing modest reserve
    Give me a mystery – just a plain and simple one – a mystery which is diffidence and silence, a slim little, barefoot mystery: give me a mystery – just one!
    - "Mysteries"
  3. unkempt
    not properly maintained or cared for
    I] do not like poems that resemble hay compressed into a geometrically perfect cube. I like it when the hay, unkempt, uncombed, with dry berries mixed in it, thrown together gaily and freely, bounces along atop some truck—and more, if there are some lovely and healthy lasses atop the hay—and better yet if the branches catch at the hay, and some of it tumbles to the road.
    - Interview with The New York Times, 1986
  4. posterity
    all future generations
    One day posterity will remember these strange times, when ordinary common honesty was called courage.
    - Saturday Review, November 8, 1969
  5. anxiety
    a vague unpleasant emotion in anticipation of a misfortune
    Character begins to form at the first pinch of anxiety about ourselves.
    - "There's Something I Often Notice"
  6. decrepit
    worn and broken down by hard use
    My beloved will come
    And wrap me in her arms.
    She will notice the changes
    And understand my fears.
    Through the black downpour, from night’s gloom,
    Forgetting in haste to shut the taxi door,
    She will run up the decrepit stairway
    Flushed with joy and longing.
    She will enter soaking wet
    Without knocking.
    She will take my head in her hands,
    And her blue fur coat will slip
    Happily from the chair onto the floor.
    - "My Beloved Will Come"
  7. mausoleum
    a large burial chamber, usually above ground
    We removed
    From the mausoleum.
    But how do we remove Stalin
    From Stalin’s heirs?
    - "Stalin's Heirs"
  8. beacon
    a tower with a light that warns passing ships
    Raised on powdered milk,we'll have no faith
    in beacons any longer, nor mistake
    real for fake, or waking for a dream.
    Beacons can’t be trusted. Trust instead
    the will of your own hand and head.
    Again the captain waves his glass,
    sights a beacon, turns and cries
    'Helmsman! There’s a beacon. Are you blind?
    But Helmsman, with the truer eye
    thinks mutiny and grumbles,
    "A mirage."
    - Ballad about False Beacons
  9. fastidious
    giving careful attention to detail
    It's indispensable, with a misfit's hunger,
    to gnaw a verb right down to the bone.
    Only one who is by nature from the naked poor
    is neither naked nor poor before fastidious eternity.
    - "Disbelief in Yourself is Indispensable"
  10. furtively
    in a secretive manner
    The last exploiter,
    opening his toothless mouth,
    will gobble the last money
    furtively, like a delicacy.
    - "Final Faith"

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