Apollon Maykov

Apollon Maykov bigraphy, stories - Russian poet

Apollon Maykov : biography

1821 – 1897

Apollon Nikolayevich Maykov (or Maikov) ( May 23 (June 4) 1821, Moscow – March 8 (March 20) 1897, Saint Petersburg) was a Russian poet, best known for his lyric verse, showcasing images of Russian villages, nature, and Russian history. His love for ancient Greece and Rome, which he studied for much of his life, is also reflected in his works. Maykov spent four years translating the epic The Tale of Igor’s Campaign (1870) into the modern Russian, translated the folklore of Belarus, Greece, Serbia, Spain, as well as the works of Heine, Adam Mickiewicz and Goethe among others. Many of Maykov’s poems were put to music by N. Rimsky-Korsakov and Tchaikovsky.


Selected bibliography

Poetry collections

  • Poems by A.N.Maykov (1842)
  • Sketches of Rome (Otcherki Rima, 1847)
  • 1854. Poems (Stikhotvoreniya, 1854)
  • The Naples Album (Neapolsky albom, 1858)
  • Songs of Modern Greece (Pesni novoy Gretsii, 1860)


  • Three Deaths (Tri smerti, 1857)
  • Two Worlds (Dva mira, 1882)

Major poems

  • Two Fates (Dve sudby, 1845)
  • Mashenka (1946)
  • Dreams (Sny, 1858)
  • The Wanderer (Strannik, 1867)
  • Princess*** (Knyazhna, 1878)
  • Bringilda (1888)


Maykov’s initial rise to fame, according to the Soviet scholar Fyodor Pryima, had a lot to do with Pushkin and Lermontov’s untimely deaths, and the feeling of desolation shared by many Russian intellectuals of the time. Belinsky, who discovered this major new talent, believed it was for Maykov to fill the vacuum. "Lavish is Russian soil, never failing to come up with talents… The moment your heart, crushed by another heavy loss or insulted by unfulfilled promise, is ready to collapse in desperation, suddenly a new phenomenon springs up to awaken in you a trembling hope… The emergence of this new talent is especially important in our times, when in the devastated Church of Art… we see but grimacing jesters entertaining dumb obscurants, egotistic mediocrities, merchants and speculators," Belinsky wrote, reviewing Maykov’s debut book.Belinsky, V.G. The Complete Belinsky. Vol. 6, Мoscow, 1955, p. 7. Hailing the emergence of a new "powerful talent", Belinsky unreservedly supported young author’s poems of the "anthological" kind, stylizations after the Ancient Greek poetry. The critic saw them as "the major element of the author’s talent", praised "the plasticity and gracefulness of the imagery", the virtuosity in the art of decorativeness, the "poetic, lively language" but also the simplicity of the latter, finding the book free from "false pathos" or "feigned elegance".Belinsky, Vissarion. The Works of… In 9 Volumes. Moscow, 1979 Vol. 4, pp. 344-346. "Even in the Pushkin’s legacy this poem would have rated among his best anthological pieces," Belinsky wrote about the poem called "The Dream".The Complete Belinsky, Vol. VI, pp. 10-11. What the critic disliked were poems about the recent Russian history. While admitting "Who’s He" (a piece on Peter the Great, which some years later found its way into textbooks) was "not bad", Belinsky lambasted "Two Coffins", a hymn to Russia’s victories over Karl XII and Napoleon. All the while, he advised the author not to stay in the "anthological" field for too long.The Complete Belinsky, Vol. I, pp. 27.

The debut collection made Maykov an overnight sensation and in the course of the next few years he strengthened his position as one of the leading Russian poets. In 1840s "his lexical and rhythmic patterns were becoming more diverse but in essence the style remained the same, still relying upon the basics of classical elegy," according to biographer O.E.Mayorova. Both in his landscape lyricism and social sketches, while the wording was flamboyant, the imagery remained strangely static. "There was an insurmountable distance between the poet and the world he pictured; the attractive simplicity and natural ways of Italian life, like the ancient idyll in his anthological exercises remained unattainable for this poet," the critic argued.