Pushkin shows us how to write a government report in a single quatrain.


Russia’s ur-poet Alexander Pushkin was among the literary radicals of the czarist regime, but politics and poetry don’t often mesh. The government was anxious to sideline him. In 1820, he was exiled to the imperial backwaters to cool his heels.

And that’s where I found his lovely little abode in Kishinev (see above). My post a few days ago about homes of famous writers returned my thoughts to Moldova, among his many other homes as he traipsed the empire. But the Kishinev hideaway was particularly cozy and I have fond memories of it. He stayed there till 1823 – a rather long sojourn, given his peripatetic life.

Pushkin was then sent to Odessa, where he became entangled with Eliza Vorontsova. Bad move: she was the wife of the city’s governor. The cuckolded Vorontsov decided that Pushkin should be given an official project far away from Odessa. He was sent eastward to the Dnieper area to study the habits of locusts, so that the government might develop a plan for their eradication.

Pushkin’s response was in immortal verse, and perhaps should be a model for all government reports:

The locusts flew and flew over the plain.
They landed on the ground.
Ate everything they found.
And then the locusts flew and flew away again.


2 Responses to “Pushkin shows us how to write a government report in a single quatrain.”

  1. Saff Says:

    Pushkin did the job better than his peers, or post-literati, getting to the crux of the matter succinctly!

  2. George Says:

    Given the state of pest control in that day, his report was as useful as any that could have been made.

    I suppose the nearest analogy in American culture is Charles Russell’s Waiting for a Chinook.