At the beginning of the 20th century, the house in Bolshoy Strochenovsky Lane was used as a dormitory for clerks working at merchant N. V. Krylov’s butcher shop. The father of the poet, Alexander Nikitich Esenin, worked in that shop for more than 30 years. Alexander Esenin occupied apartment 6 with its small rooms.
This house at 24 Bolshoy Strochenovsky Lane became Sergei Esenin’s first address in Moscow, because it is to his father’s apartment that he came to live from his native village of Konstantinovo in 1912. A memorial plaque was put on the façade in commemoration of the poet’s stay.
The lobby of the museum is filled with flowers and herbs coming from Konstantinovo and features a piece of rough fence from Moscow’s Zamoskvorechye District, which reflect the first impressions of the poet about the city, which he described later as:
“After all, the best thing that I have ever seen in this world is Moscow.”
The golden balls, extending to infinity, symbolize the internal light and optimism of Esenin’s poetry, which greets us in a sunny golden frame and invites us to enter into the unsolved mystery of his immortal poetic image.
The memorial room
The memorial room keeps the original atmosphere of the everyday life of a typical Zamoskvorechye resident of the early 20th century — we see a bed, an old cupboard, a dining-table, and a stool, and a chair — the basic furniture that a tenant needed for his everyday life, moments of leisure and to receive guests.
Sergei Esenin and his father loved drinking tea, and in the room we see a set of tea-making items — a samovar , a samovar tray, a brass kettle, a teapot and cups, a sugar bowl, and tableware. In the cupboard, we also see a beer bottle.
In one of his letters to Anna Sardanovskaya Sergei Esenin wrote:
“I will be drinking beer and remembering you…”
Also in this room there are a traveling case, and a traveling bag, which seems to have been left by the poet after he moved to Moscow. In that bag he had brought his most precious articles from Konstantinovo — manuscripts of his verses.
The interior of the room can tell us even more about Sergei Esenin’s character, his interests and affections.
In their reminiscences, his relatives and friends mentioned Esenin’s love for his home, its warmth and cozy atmosphere. The comfortable armchair creates a remarkable atmosphere, along with the linen towel, the doily and even the small pillow, its pillowcase embroidered by Tatyana Feodorovna Esenina, the poet’s mother.
In the icon corner of the memorial room is an icon “Our Lady of Kazan”, the original family icon that was donated to the museum by the poet’s niece Svetlana Petrovna Esenina.
As tradition demanded, there is an icon lamp in front of the icon. The old wall clock, a gift to Alexander Esenin from the merchant Krylov, also ‘remembers’ the poet.
Lots of the items in the memorial room remind us of the poet, especially the manuscript of his poem “Poet”, which was written in this room, the porcelain inkpot, and the pen that seems ready to write…
Sergei Esenin was a well-read, educated man and never parted with books. The books on the wooden shelves seem to have been put there by the poet himself. They give us a picture of Esenin’s reading interests.
Works by G. R. Derzhavin, S. Ya. Nadson, and books that indicate Yesenin’s interest in social philosophy, history and literature: V. G. Belinsky’s “A Letter to Gogol”; N. I. Kareyev’s “Historical, philosophical and sociological sketches”, I. S. Nikitin’s “Reading for People”, “Ethical Views of Count L. N. Tolstoy and Philosophical Criticism Thereof”, Ch. Vetrinsky’s “The Teacher of the Russian Community”, “Stuck” by an unknown author, P. A. Bulanzhe’s “The Life and Teaching of Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, i.e. the Perfect One”.
Throughout his life, Sergei Esenin was keen on literature by both classical and contemporary authors.
Alexander Pushkin was especially cherished by the poet — there is a good reason a portrait bust of Pushkin is on one of the shelves. Sergei Esenin admitted that “Pushkin is the poet that I love the most…”.
As for S. Ya. Nadson, whose picture we can see on a shelf, Esenin praised his works in his early years, but his passion eventually cooled. We also see a small bronze bell , which could have been brought from the poet’s native village of Konstantinovo. In the display, the bell symbolizes the inextricable connection between the poet and his native land.
The triptych stand
The stand is organized as a triptych, in a form typical of an icon. The holy face is replaced with the holy voice — poetry — which in Esenin’s opinion, flows from a heavenly spring and is a gift of the Holy Ghost. In the center of the triptych is Esenin, the way the artist V. Junger saw him in 1915.
The stand is dedicated to the early period of Sergei Esenin’s work. The central part comprises manuscripts of young Esenin’s works (“Along the field, near the haystacks…”, “Bird-cherries’ snow…”, “My dear Rus’…”, “The path is thinking of the red night…”, “It is not the strong wind that melts the clouds…”, “Distant mist…”, “I will not be wandering about in the scarlet bushes anymore”, “A Song of a Dog”, “Winter”, “Stars”, “Night”, “I am sad and sorrowful when I see…”, “The sky is covered in white cream…”, “Slasher”, a notebook with his poems including sheets compiled by Sergei Esenin himself (1911–1912).
The left part of the stand includes the first positive critical responses to the poet’s works, the right one comprises Esenin’s publications in children’s magazines “Mirok”, “Protalinka”, “Mlechny Put”.
In the upper part is Esenin’s first book of poems “Radunitsa” (Petrograd, 1916), which he referred to as a “book of songs” — he must have emphasized his connection with folk music. An ancient icon “Nativity of Christ”, to the right of the stand, suggests a birth and arrival of a poet and prophet.
Esenin's St. Petersburg period
Sergei Esenin’s friendly relationship with the poet Alexander Blok (1880–1921) helped him make a name for himself in Petersburg magazines and literary salons. Esenin becomes an acclaimed poet.
In the upper part is a manuscript of the poem “I’m tired of living in the native land…” (1916). To the left is a photo of Sergei Esenin and S. M. Gorodetsky (1884–1967) (March–April 1915).
The photograph was taken during the months of Esenin’s military service. In the picture Esenin is captured wearing the soldier’s uniform with a private first class patch.
The shoulder-straps were marked with the monogram “AF”, followed by four letters “TsVSP”, meaning Empress Alexandra Feodorovna Tsarskoe Selo Hospital Train No.143.
To the left of the drawing are publications of that period by Sergei Esenin (“Shed your blossom-snow, bird cherries…”, “Trinity”, “Bridal Shower”) and his friend poet A. Shiryaevets (1887–1924) (“Stenka Razin”) in “Monthly Magazine” (No.6)
To the left is a manuscript of the poem “I love you, my gentle Motherland…”
Also here is the open letter of the staff of “Monthly Magazine” to Yesenin of 1915 with a request to send some poems for publication.
Zinaida Nikolayevna Reich was Sergei Esenin’s first official wife (they got married in 1917 and had two children: Tatiana (1918–1992) and Konstantin (1920–1986).
During his fist day in the literary capital of Russia, Esenin paid a visit to Alexander Blok. The stand shows a unique document: Sergei Esenin’s note to Alexander Blok (March 1915) with his pencil autograph and Blok’s comment on the meeting written on the note.
A month later, Esenin wanted to meet with Blok again and wrote him a letter (also on the stand) (1915) (Photo 50). The meeting never took place, though, but Blok presented Esenin with a book with his inscription.
Esenin’s October revolution period
Sergei Esenin’s attitude to the October Revolution was ambiguous and complex. The poet had expected a major spiritual revival of the country, which is reflected in his works, even in lyrical poems. His contemporaries said that the poet’s favorite word during the few years after the revolution was ‘transformation’. However, his hopes of a revolutionary revival were followed by disillusionment.
The stand displays photographs of Sergei Esenin with collaborating poets, manuscripts, and publications.
At the top are newsreel shots showing Esenin at the opening of the monument to A. V. Koltsov (1918, November, Moscow), a manuscript of the collective film script “Calling Dawns” (Mikhail Gerasimov, Sergei Esenin, Sergei Klychkov, Nadezhda Pavlovich), a poem dedicated to N. A. Klyuev — “My love is different now…” (1918), and excerpts from the autobiography “About Myself” (October 1925).
Also on the stand are photographs capturing Sergei Esenin with A. M. Kozhebatkin (1918–1919), N. A. Klyuev (1916), and S. A. Klychkov (Moscow, 1918); the bas-relief image by S. T. Konenkov “To those fallen in the fight for peace and international brotherhood” for the Kremlin wall, as well as the cover of the magazine “Factory Glow” (Samara)
To the right is the cover of the first imaginist album “Cavalry of Storms” (1919) and a photograph of the bust of Sergei Esenin by S. T. Konenkov (1920). The stand also features a manuscript of Esenin’s poem “Wake me up early tomorrow…” (1917) and the poet’s application for membership in the Union of Writers (1918).
In the lower left corner is the book “Goluben” by Sergei Esenin (1918), a photograph of the poet (Moscow, 1919), manuscripts of the poems “Here it is, my silly happiness…” (1918), “Oh, muse, my lithe friend…” (1917), “Green hairdo…” (1918), and a photograph capturing Sergei Yesenin at L. I. Kashina’s house in Skaterny Lane (Sergei Yesenin, M. Z. Peretz, L. I. Kashina, E. E. Kondratyeva, G. L. Balmont, G. A. Kozhevnikov, Moscow, October 1918).
Esenin’s collaboration with imaginists
Esenin’s collaboration with imaginists mostly developed during the Moscow period of the poet’s creative life. This stand displays materials focusing on that exciting period in Esenin’s work.
At the top of the stand is a graphic portrait of Sergei Esenin by E. S. Kruglikova (1928). To the left is a photograph of A. B. Marienhof (1897–1962) and Sergei Esenin (Moscow, summer of 1919) and a manuscript of Esenin’s poem “I’m the last poet of the village…” (1920). Along with Sergei Eseninn’s book “Moscow of the Taverns” (1924), the stand presents his books published by the “Imazhinisty” printing house: “Transfiguration” (1921), “Treryadnitsa” (1920), and “Star Ox” (1921).
Also during that period, Esenin collaborated with imaginists, who published their Declaration of Imaginists signed, among others, by Sergei Esenin, along with A. B. Marienhof (1897–1962), A. B. Kusikov (1896–1977), and V. G. Shershenevich (1893–1942).
The stand also shows compilations of poems by imaginists that include works by Sergei Esenin: “A Tavern of Dawns” (1920), “Foundry of Words” (1920), and “Pugachyov” (1922). In the center of the stand is a poster of a soiree of the All-Russian Union of Poets “Poetry of Our Days” at the Amphitheater of the Polytechnic Museum (29 November 1925).
To the left of the poster is a group photograph taken in Strastnoy Boulevard — Sergei Esenin, V. G. Shershenevich, I. V. Gruzinov, A. B. Marienhof, F. A. Shereshevskaya (Moscow 1920), as well as a photograph of Sergei Esenin (Moscow, 1919).
Below is a photograph of Sergei Esenin and V. V. Khlebnikov (Kharkiv, April 1920). In 1920, V. V. Khlebnikov went to Kharkiv seeking relief from hunger, but fell ill there. Esenin and A. B. Marienhof came to Kharkiv to visit him. The photograph was made on one of those days.
Next to the photograph is Esenin’s poem “The rain is sweeping with its wet brooms…” (1919).
In the right-hand corner of the stand are a photograph of Sergei Esenin (1925) and the photograph of Avgusta Leonidovna Miklashevskaya (1891–1977), to whom Esenin dedicated the cycle of poems “Hooligan’s Love”. Also here are a manuscript of Esenin’s poem “You have been drunk by someone else…” written by A. L. Miklashevskaya’s hand (1946) and a draft of Esenin’s “Spinning blue fire…” (1923).
Below and to the right are the photograph of Galina Arturivna Benislavskaya (1897–1926) and the poet’s letters to that infinitely loyal woman.
In the lower right-hand corner are manuscripts of Yesenin’s “Pugachyov” (October 1925), the photograph of Sergei Yesenin, A. B. Marienhof, and A. B. Kusikov (Moscow, summer of 1919).
The Icon “The Descent of Prophet Elijah”
A true poet is always a prophet. The icon “The Descent of Prophet Elijah” (mid-18th century) stresses the prophetic nature of Esenin’s poetry.
Esenin was interested in the books written by the Old Testament prophets and his contemporaries said he was able to quote large passages from Isaiah, Ecclesiastes and emphasized that the path of the poet and the path of the prophet were the same.
Esenin’s foreign journey
Esenin’s journey to Europe and America in 1922–1923 marked the period when he was married to the famed American dancer Isadora Duncan (1877–1927). Their official marriage was registered in Moscow (May 1922).
The stand gives an idea of Esenin’s and Duncan’s impressions of foreign countries and focuses on the poet’s work on his “Land of Scoundrels”, “Black Man” and some other poems.
At the top is a manuscript of his poem “I don't pity, don't call, don't cry…” (1921), to the right is a photograph of Sergei Esenin (Paris, 1922). To the left of the manuscript is his address to the diplomat Litvinov with a request to leave The Hague signed by Isadora Duncan and Sergei Esenin. Being a patriot, Esenin often sang The Internationale and had problems with moving from one country to another. In his address the poet pledges that he would never sing The Internationale ever again.
To the right of the drawing on the stand there are numerous pictures of Sergei Esenin and Isadora Duncan: a photograph of Duncan, Duncan and Esenin (Moscow, May 1922), Esenin and Duncan at the beach in Lido (Italy, 1922), Duncan and Esenin after their arrival in New York (1 October 1922), Esenin and Duncan (1922), Esenin and Duncan (Berlin, 1922), and a photograph of Isadora Duncan and her students.
Below is the letter written by Sergei Esenin to his sister Ekaterina (1922), Esenin’s books published in Europe: Sergei Alexandrovich Esenin: Collected Verses and Poems (Berlin, 1922), “Pugachyov” (Berlin, 1922), “Moscow of the Taverns” (the manuscript cover of the collection, Paris, 1923). To the right is the cover of “Zrelishcha” magazine, publication of excerpts from the poems “Land of Scoundrels” in the newspaper “Bakinsky Rabochy” (Baku, 1924), publication of Sergei Esenin’s article “Iron Mirgorod) in the newspaper “Izvestiya” (Moscow, 1924) right after his return from his foreign trip. Also here is Esenin’s foreign passport with a wax seal (Paris, 13 September 1922) and the manuscripts that he was working on during his journey: Scene One of his poem “Land of Scoundrels”, four pages of the draft manuscript of the poem “Black Man”, and a manuscript of the article “Iron Mirgorod” (1923).
Final period of Sergei Esenin’s work
The end of the poet’s life (1923–1925) was marked by the peak of his creative career. Esenin wrote numerous verses and poems, including the lyrical and epic poem “Anna Snegina”, “Poem of 36”, the cycle of verses “Persian Motives”, the philosophical poem “Flowers”, a cycle of so-called winter verses and many more.
At the top of the stand are lifetime editions of Esenin’s works, which prove that he was recognized as a Great Russian poet.
To the left of the drawing are the editions of Esenin’s “Dream. A Black Road” in the newspaper “Bakinsky Rabochy” (1925), manuscripts of the verses “Mat grass is asleep. Dear plain…” (1925), “Why’s the Moon’s light is so dim…” (1925). To the right of the drawing is a manuscript of Esenin’s poem “To Pushkin” (1924) and photographs of Sergei Esenin with Soviet writers and poets: V. V. Kazin (Moscow, September 1923), I. I. Brodsky and others (Petrograd, 1923), Ivan Pribludny, G. B. Shmerelson, V. I. Erlikh, Vladimir Riciotti, S. A. Polotsky (Leningrad, April 1924), N. A. Klyuev and V. Ivanov (Leningrad, April 1924), L. M. Leonov (Moscow, March 1925), V. F. Nasedkin (1895–1938) (Moscow, 1925) and the photograph of Sergei Esenin with his sister Ekaterina in Prechistensky Boulevard (Moscow, 1925).
Under the drawing is the photograph of Sergei Esenin with his mother (Moscow, March 1925), photograph of Sergei Esenin and P. I. Chagin (1898–1967) (September 1924), photograph of Sergei Esenin and V. I. Boldovkin (25 May 1925), a group photo (Sergei Esenin and S. A. Tolstaya (1900–1957), A. A. Esenina (1911–1981), E. A. Esenina (1905–1977), V. F. Nasedkin (1895–1938), and A. M. Sakharov (Moscow, 1925).
At the bottom of the stand is a manuscript of the verses from the final years of the poet’s life: “Oh my dear maple, frozen, stiff and bare…” (1925), “Letter to Mother” (1924), “Flowers bid me farewell…” (1925), “My darling’s hands are a pair of swans…” (1925), “You said that Saadi…” (1924), “Blue fog. Snowy plain…” (1925), and the edition of “Persian Motives” in the newspaper “Bakinsky Rabochy” (1925).
In the left part of the same stand is the magazine “Krasnaya Niva” with the publication of Esenin’s “The wind, silver wind is whizzing…” (Moscow, 1925) and manuscripts of the poems “The grove of golden trees has fallen silent…” (1924), “Do you hear the rushing sleigh?” (1925), “Inexpressible, blue, tender…” (1925), “Silent eve, blue and gloomy…” (1925). Also here is a photograph of Sergei Esenin (March 1925).
In the right section of the stand is the form of a member of the Union of Writers, membership card No. 81 of the Union of Writers, Sergei Esenin’s letter to A. M. Gorky, a manuscript of the verse “Outgoing Rus’” (1924), a draft manuscript and edition of the poem “Anna Snegina” (1925) and one of the last photographs of the poet (Moscow, 1925).
The display ends in the hall, where we lower our heads to internationally acclaimed geniuses whose works have made an important part of our life and will excite and inspire future generations.
Many geniuses of world culture who lived at various times and in various parts of the world are represented here — in sculptures, drawings, portraits, editions, manuscripts, charts, etc.
Our country has gone through hard times, when people forgot about spirituality, and children fell victims to the cruelty of adults. There is a reason why the picture of Tsarevich Alexei, drawn by E. P. Samokish-Sudkovskaya, is also here, together with an incense bag and a cross.
The stand to the right of the entrance shows editions of Esenin’s works in foreign languages. In his lifetime, the poet’s books were translated into 17 languages. UNESCO has officially recognized Sergei Esenin as the most-read and translated Russian poet in the world.
On one side of the mirror walls of the hall is the letter “Р” (Russia) in a crown of thorns symbolizing Russia’s difficult path and challenges that it has faced. On the other side is the letter “Е” (Esenin) in a crown of thorns. The two walls reflect in each other suggesting that the fate of Russia is reflected in the fate of the deeply national poet Sergei Esenin, who became an essential part of Russian and world culture while celebrating his endless love for his country.
Curator — The Esenin Museum of Moscow