Classification – name: Literary studies
Pages: 507–526
Publisher: A.M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IWL RAS Publ.)
Rights – description: Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 (СС BY-ND)
Rights – URL:
Language of the publication: Russian
Type of document: Research Article
Collection: Sergey Esenin in the Context of the Epoch
Year of publication: 2021
Place of publication: Moscow


Author: Olga E. Voronova
Voronova, O. E. “Sergey Esenin and Walt Whitman: Historical and Literary Parallels and Contexts.” Sergey Esenin in the Context of the Epoch: Сollective Мonograph. Ex. ed. Natalia I. Shubnikova-Guseva. Moscow, IWL RAS Publ., 2021, pp. 507–526. (In Russian)

About the author:

Olga E. Voronova, DSc in Philology, Professor of Journalism Department, Head of Esenin Research Center, Editor-in-Chief of “Contemporary Esenin Study” Journal, Ryazan State University named for S. Esenin, Svobody St. 46, 390000 Ryazan, Russia.


E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 


The article examines the historical and literary contexts indicating Esenin’s interest in the personality and works of Walt Whitman. This is confirmed, in particular, by the constant presence of the name of the American poet in Esenin’s polemics with Mayakovsky. I. Duncan, introducing Esenin to her compatriots, called him “Walt Whitman of Russia”. The names of Esenin and Whitman often appeared in the same line in articles of their contemporary critics (G. Zabezhinsky, F. Hellens, K. Jaworski, Ai Qing etc.). The poets’ articles appeared side by side in journals and anthologies and were reproduced at the same literary evenings. Both of them became symbolic figures who expressed the spirit of their people, the pioneers of new creative ways, combining archaic and modern art. The poets were united by the glorification of natural existence, “flood of the soul” (W. Whitman) and “flood of the feelings” (S. Esenin); the idea of free wandering along the expanses of their native land; interest in the basic elements of life — the grain, the flower, the bee,the ear; a brotherly feeling toward all living things on earth. Like Whitman, Esenin was close to the cyclical model of nature, which can be reflected in the motif of “sprouting” as a universal idea of birth, formation and development of all existing things in Whitman’s program collection “Leaves of Grass”. Esenin’s poems which are especially close to Whitman’s works are the ones of the revolutionary-romantic cycle of 1917–1918 (the images of a new prophet, the titan-creator, the motifs of “cosmic march” of humanity and spiritual transformation of the world, lyrical expression, the intonation of appeal, pathos of inner freedom, resort to Whitman-style of free verse).

Keywords: S. Esenin, W. Whitman, Russian-American literary relations, cosmism, man and nature, lyrical expression, interaction of archaic and modern art, free verse.