“The Trout Breaks the Ice” by Mikhail Kuzmin: Verse and Grammar

  • Marina Akimova Institute of World Culture, Lomonosov Moscow State University
Keywords: grammar of poetry, tense and time, metrical semantics, poetic composition


The author explores various compositional levels of the Russian modernist author Mikhail Kuzmin’s long poem “The Trout Breaks the Ice”. The levels are: (1) the grammatical tenses vs. the astronomical time (non-finite verb forms (imperative) are also assumed to indicate time); (2) the meters of this polymetric poem; (3) realistic vs. symbolic and (4) static vs. dynamic narrative modes. The analysis is done by the chapter, and the data are summarized in five tables. It turned out that certain features regularly co-occur, thus supporting the complex composition of the poem. In particular, the present tense and time regularly mark the realistic and static chapters written in various meters, whereas the past tense and time are specific to the realistic and dynamic chapters written in iambic pentameter. The article sheds new light on the compositional structure of Kuzmin’s poem and the general principles of poetic composition.


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