Mayakovsky of Mayakovsky’s life, but rather a magnificent exaggeration, an enormous panorama of what an individual might look like if he managed to map his subjectivity onto the world that stood outside him. For Mayakovsky, the pathetic fallacy is not an artistic falsehood: the only way of explaining himself to the world is to make the world subject to his own emotions and strivings. And how does he achieve this? Chief among his weapons is an unmatched command of rhyme, unconnected to anything so banal as strict logical sense. In his poetry, especially his earlier, more avowedly Futurist work, you get the impression that he is allowing his purely verbal sense to structure his work. In Mayakovsky’s Rhyme Mikhail Shtokmar identifies hundreds of distinctive ways in which Mayakovsky uses rhyme, from a ‘perfect’ variety to one in which the rhymed words are barely connected, as in the poem ‘The Revolution’, which rhymes ‘seroyu’ tangentially with ‘gromovoye’.4 Mayakovsky normally keeps the rhymes happy in one of two ways: either by allowing strong rhymes to control a broken rhythm – an English analogy would be Shelton Brooks’s ‘The Darktown Strutters’ Ball’ (1917), in which the couplet ‘Better be ready ’ bout half past eight / Now baby, don’t be late’ is allowed to be almost completely arrhythmical because of the absolute rhyme of eight / late – or else by allowing a regular rhythm to enforce on the ear the appearance of rhyme sounds that aren’t actually there – as in Regina Spektor’s lyrics to ‘On the Radio’ (2006), ‘While we were on our knees / praying that disease / would leave the ones we loved / and never come again’, in which the non-existent rhyme between ‘loved’ and ‘again’ is implied by the rhythm of the verse.
For a further example of Mayakovsky’s verbal sense controlling his literal meaning, consider the beginning of the poem ‘Stunning Facts’. In Russian it runs as follows (I’ll set it out flat on the page, though Mayakovsky breaks the lines):
Небывалей не было у истории в аннале факта: вчера, сквозь иней, звеня в «Интернационале», Смольный ринулся к рабочим в Берлине.
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