Our Notes & References
Second, much expanded edition of this important collection of poetry, following the first edition just the year before.
The first collection of poems by the young Tsvetaeva, “The Evening Album”, was released in 1910; the next one, “The Magic Lantern”, marked in 1915 the discovery of Tsvetaeva’s poetic skills. In 1921, after the first World War, the Revolution and the Civil War, this third compilation appeared, devoted by Tsvetaeva to Russia and Russian poets. It was first published by the Kostry private publishing house and contained 35 poems written from January 1917 to December 1920.
In 1922 however, Tsvetaeva had this second edition published by the State Publishing House: including 84 poems, it became the most important of the only two lifetime editions of ‘Versty’. Important poems here include those devoted to Blok and Akhmatova, as well as the cycle “Daniel” of 1916-18, addressed to Tsvetaeva’s friend Nicodemus Akimovich Plutser-Sarna, who supported her in difficult life circumstances of post-revolutionary years. The collection also includes the famous cycle of poems about Moscow.
Initially, Tsvetaeva wanted to name the edition “Kitezh-grad”, as per a note written in 1921 reading “Poems about Russia. Kitezh-grad or Versts”; with a later postscript: “How nice that it is not Kitezh-grad! There seems to be such a book shop in Paris, and perhaps a gastronomic Russian shop – 1932.”
The celebrated cover was designed by Nikolai Nikolaevich Vysheslavtsev (1890-1952), an artist famous for his portraits and book illustrations. Vysheslavtsev made a profound impression on Tsvetaeva: in her diary she wrote “Oh, Pushkin! – Oh NN!”, and devoted 27 poems to Vysheslavtsev, included in the general cycle N.N.V.