Направления, течения >> Эстетические концепции 1920-х гг. >> Имажинизм >> Шершеневич Вадим. Ломать грамматику >> Vadim Shershenevich. Break up the grammar

To Peshkovsky

«There is no laws» in it – this is a main and magnificent law of Poetry.

Indeed: «Poetry is a lofty combination of noble words, these words are combined in such a way, that the accented words and the unaccented words interchange harmonically and consistently», – a noble grandfather of Russian poetry wrote so. What of this pathetic definition escaped destruction?

A Don Quixote of Russian poetics A. Potebnya (it's known, that Veselovsky or Bely are only Sancho Panzas) said once: «The improvement of sciences expresses in their differentiation in the aims and means, but not in a blending; in their interaction, but not in the slavish service to others».

With no less success it may be applied to Arts. Than more independent is some Art from the other Art, more energy is expended for direct studying the material, with which this Art is working.

Yet so far aristocrats of stupidity study a sound-nature of a word, count a number of the stressed syllables in Pushkin, create the three-parts pauzniks or at last they count sound-repetitions and parallelisms with the perseverance of an onanist. It's like wishing to learn a psycology of a peasant, to measure a number of the arshins of chintz for a dress of his wife. A more bolder ones eliminated out of words all except of word as such and with admiration examine the image of word.

Anyone can see the difference between the image of the word and the content of the word, the meaning of the word, the idea of the word. Yet so far aristocrats of stupidity study a sound-nature of a word, count a number of the stressed syllables in Pushkin, create the three-parts pauzniks or at last they count sound-repetitions and parallelisms with perseverance onanist. It's like wishing to learn a psycology of a peasant, to measure a number of the arshins of chintz for a dress of his wife. A more bolder ones eliminated out of words all except of word as such and with admiration examine the image of word.

Anyone can see the difference between the image of the word and the content of the word, the meaning of the word, the idea of the word. However hardly every consciously asked himself a question, what is the correlation between the image of the word and the place of the word in a phrase? In other words: is there an image of words a constant or a variable? Is very important to clear up it in our day, when in the alternation and sequence of the images of the words the correct size of the imageology is ignored and the free order of the images reigned.

An curious example: in the chinese language «tau» means «head» but not head as a top of a human body, but as something round. «Sijn» means a heart, feelings and thoughts. But the combination «sijntau» means only a «heart», since tau gives rise to the image of the circularity, but sijn gives rise to innards. «Zhi» means a day, but the image of the circularity, moving from tau to zhi entails that «zhitau» means the day-circularity, that is the Sun.

The image of the word in the chinese language heavily depends on the radial influence of the adjoining words.

Roots of our words, unfortunately, too clearly define the grammatical form. This is not any self-lighting substance, not organic, giving birth itself. This is only the cripples of the grammatical words. Because the «vizh» is already a verb, whereas the «vid» is a noun, and also the verb with definite form of a number and a person. Our roots – are the firewood, the fragments of a tree being green formerly.

But these have a possibility to influence, way to recreate this lopped image, which is decaying in them.

The screaming word:

– Off with the metric verse! Off with the stilts of the content and sense! – the word, which escaped out of the prison of ideology, makes futile attempts now in prairies of a verse to shatter the irons of grammar, the fetters of declensions, conjugations, the chains of syntactic consistency.

«Kak teper’ daleje brat’ otec mat’ bol’noy ljubit’ ty gruppa otnositelno serdce vnutrennie scazat’ odin scazat’» – this is not a delirium of Kruchenykh: this is the metaphrase from chinese: zhukin tsije na fumu tungngaj nimen ti cintshang sve i sve, that is: and now, passing to parents’ heart, which loves you hotly, shall say about it a few words.
What is in common? The organized army appears out of  the anarchistic liberties by means of the interaction of different images of the same words for the conjunction.
Unfortunately, the russian language is very completed and does not allow to use fantasy. Encased in armor of grammar and, mainly, of grammatical forms and sequences, any russian frase is similar to a knight in heavy armor, who still may be thought riding high, but getting off the horse, it is a similar to a tortoise, is conventionally ugly, like a symbolist who practises non-metrical versification.

The word on the surface – this is the banal ideal of a poetic day-to-day existence in present time, a coin of feelings and amorous torments. Today the three dimensions` word rises from the grave, for it is ready for a revenge. On the magnificent age-old gravestones of word – the russian literature – some roughnecks already founded a latrine of Dostoevsky and Chelpanov.

The plane word now gradually, by means of a lighting of an image, begins to become three-dimensional.
A deepness, length and width of the word determined by means of an image, sense and sound of the word. But whereas one of these dimension – a sense – is a logically constant, two others are transitional, and a sound is a outwardly transitional, an image is organically transitional. A sound is changing depending on a grammatic form, but an image is changing when it collides with an imgrammatic form.

Some time ago Khlebnikov tried to find an inner declension of words. He argued that «bok» [side] is an accusative case of «byk» [bull], because of «bok» is a place to which a blow directed, and «byk» is a place from which a blow goes. A forest – is a place with a hair, but «lys» [bald-headed] – without a hair. He wanted to prove an impossible thing, for an image is not subordinated  not only to a grammar, but in every way struggles with grammar, banishes it.

Indeed in the russian language the image of a word is usually located in the root of a word, and a grammatical ending reminds only a froth flailing about rock. A froth can not  change a form of this rock, for rock is not a product of a froth, but froth is a product of a rock.

The word is upside down: this is the most normal position of a word, out of  which  must be born a new image. A pregnant scared will give birth by anticipation. A word always is pregnant of an image, and it always ready to birth.

Why we – the imagists – so strangely at first glance gave a shout in the stomach of the contemporary poetics: Off with a verb! Long live a noun!

A verb is a main conductor of a grammatical orchestra. This is a baton of etymology, as a predicate is a baton of syntax.

A word – is a donkey, it imports Christ of an image into Jerusalem of a comprehension. But the donkey is only accidental accessory of Bible.

Everything falling away of a verb (an adjective as a middle between a noun and a verb; adverb, participle), everything exhales a slight smell of cheap dynamics. A fussiness is not a dynamics yet.

So an imagism, as a group, which popularizes an image, owe inevitably multiply nouns to the detriment of a verb. A noun, essential, that is released from grammar or, if it is possible, waging civil war with grammar, – this is main material of poetic creative work.

A noun – is a such product out of  which can prepare a work of poetry, A verb – is not even a sad necessity, this is simply a disease of our language, an appendix of poetry.
And so an ardent struggle with a verb has begun; many experiences and achievments of Mariengof (Magdalina [Magdalene], Konditerskaya solnc [Confectionery of Suns]), Shershenevich (in «Plavilnja Slov» [A Foundry of Words], «Sulamif Gorodov» [Shulamith of Cities]) etc., visually brightly had demonstrated a fortuitousness and an inutility of a verb. A verb – is a hard sign of grammar: it is necessary only from time to time, but and there one can manage without it.

A noun is already painted from the inside; but all words which are around, give a merging of paints, there are words of an additional word. However in the most cases the adjacent agreed words will not change the colouring, but only will repeat a leitword once more.
And so it is so joyfully to meet any incorrectness of grammar, any cases of  imgrammatics.

Where the wild cry of a mad brougham is,
   Where the wild cry of a mad me is.

The second line slightly, discording with relation to grammar, so charming and touching embellishes all architectural pay-sheet of a line.

According to the same principle by which the futurists struggled against a punctuation, we must struggle against the architectural-grammatic one: against prepositions.

A preposition truncates an image of a word adding to it a definite grammatic physiognomy. A preposition is a herald of declensions. This is a destruction of a unexpectedness. These are rails of logic. A preposition is a good persuader and a negotiator of words.

If a conjunction smoothes pits and bumps, a preposition cuts me off.  It takes out of the hands of a lump of an image and replaces it by a sleek and well-mannered boy. Down with the preposition – is still more naturally and necessary, than down with the verb.

If a verb tries to charm by a cheap stuff an activity of a figurative noun, an adjective depicts that is placed in a noun. This is often the spade by which out of the bowels of the earth the precious sparkles dig out. A main benefit of an adjectives in comparison with a verb an adjective did not depend on tense. No matter how nasty an adjective may be, we must not forget about the nobility of its blood.

An adjective – is a child of a noun, spoiled bad company of degrees of comparison, a closeness to verb, a slavish dependence of a noun. An adjective is afraid of a number, a case or a gender of a noun, but it is a child of a noun, and that says a lot.

An adjective – is a disfigured noun. Golub (a dove), golubizna (a blueness) – this is figuratively and pictorially; goluboy (blue) – this is an abstracting of a root; ryzik (saffron milk cap) is better than ryzyj (red); belok (an egg-white) is better than belyj (white); chernila (an ink) is better than chernyj (black). And a poet, who likes a brightness and naturalness of paints, never will say: blue sky, but golub neba, never –  belyj mel (white chalk), but always – belok mela (a white of chalk).

And a contemporary language has a doubtless craving for a back motion: an adjective already tries turn into a noun.

Portnoy (a tailor), ssylnyj (a convict). Strastnaya (Holy Week), Groznyj, nasekomoje (an insect), pridanoye (a dowry) – is it not a noun, having grammatically an adjectives inflexion? But is the adjective, in conclusion, not a noun? There is a row of words – adjectives, already turned into nouns, other only being try nouns (zakaznoje / a registered letter).

Nouns are the sum of all signs of this object, an adjective is only one sign. An adjective, painting more than one signs, will be a noun, but with an adjectives inflexion.

We see it clearly if only because to the mass of the adjectives new adjectives, which mark out a one side of an adjective, already join.

For example, rezvaja pristjaznaja (a quick outrunner), khodkoje prilagatelnoje (a common adjective).

Participle is closer to verb (change of tenses). But even it as a form which moves away from verb, sometimes turns into an adjective, and more brave adjectives turn even into nouns (for example, ranenyj / an injured man, morozenoje / ice-cream etc.).

Extend a chain of words, this is a truth of Marinetti, a force of which of course not in his poetic talent, in lack of his poetic  talent. But the force of Marinetti in his correct comprehension of a material, and only his strong purposeful mawkishness make him go away from correctness. Marinetti, once threw a phrase: «Poetry is a row of uninterrupted images, otherwise it is only a greensickness», – the phrase, which all books of imagists must worn on the forehead as an epigraph, already demanded to destroy grammar. But he demanded it not in the name of a liberation of a word, but in the name of a more persuasiveness of a thought.

All roads lead to Rome – a grammar must be destroyed.

A noun with its son-adjective and stepchild-participle demands a full freedom.

A theatre demands exempting from a repertoire, a word demands exempting from an idea.

Not an abstruse word, but a figurative word is a material of a poetic work. Not a destruction of an image, but when an image eats up a sense – this is a path of developing of a word.

This is a difficult confinement, and we, poets, mediators between and Earth and Sky, have to alleviate the word its birth period.

A sense of a word placed not only in the root of a  word, but in its grammatic form. The image of the word is only in the root. Destroying grammar,  we destroy a potential force of a content, preserving a previous force of an image.

Destruction of grammar, destruction of old forms and creation new ones, neglect of grammar – and a sense will given away in absolute power of an image.

A participle of future, degrees of comparison from the words, which have not degrees of comparison, nonexistent cases, nonexistent forms of verbs, a lack of coordination of genders and cases – this is a means, a short list of drugs for a paralyzed word. It is necessary to add to words a new meaning to annihilate by means of puns a sense, a content. Is it not clear by such examples like «Mne strashno vojti v tem» (I am afraid to go into a darkness), «Mne strashno nekogda» (I awfully busy), «prishla pochta» (correspondes has come), «pochta nakhoditsja na uglu» (the post office is at the corner).

Sometimes a suffix gives a grammatical gender to a word. For example: shljapa (a hat) and shljapka (a little hat), where the second word always denotes a lady’s (woman’s) hat.

It is necessary always to remember the original image of the word, forgetting its meaning. When you hear derevnja (village), who except of an poet-imagist conceives about what if a village and all houses made of wood, and a village, of course, is nearer to a meaning of a word «woody», than a village. Because gorod (a city) is some ogorogennoje (an enclosed place), kopyto kopajusheje (a hoof that digs), reka (a river) and rech (a speech) are closely related like usta (lips) and ustje (mouth of a river).
It is necessary to create magnifying forms there where grammar declares them invalid. We have only «lavka» (a bench), it is necessary instead of bolshaya lavka (a big bench) to speak lava, instead of budka (a box) – buda (like dudka / pipe – duda); miska (a tureen) – misa or mis (lis / a fox).

Let us created those grammatical forms, which owing to the fact that grammar does not recognize them, will not be subordinated to grammar. A word «stat’» (figure) has only Genetive (stati). It is necessary to write «stati», «statju» etc. Near the «ochutitsja», «ochutishsja» will appear «ochuchus’» and others, near the «smejus’» (I laugh), «bojus’» (I am afraid), «lenjus’» (I am lazy) will be smeju, boju, lenju; we will revive figurative words nichok, bosik, nagish, peshok out of the deformed words nichkom (facedown), nagishom (naked), peshkom (afoot). Even a «tomorrow» will jump along the cases: za rasstegnutym vorotom nyncha volosatuju zavtru uvid’ (behind the unbutton collar now you will see a hairy tomorrow).

«Drebezg», «vilo» are not worse, than «to pieces» and «pitchfork», «voroto» is more figurative than a gate. We will convulsively seek and find a positive degree of the «better» and a comparative degree of the «good», nominative from «me» and dative from «I». Ja pobegu from «to triumph» waits for a poet.
All these new forms, brought to life as a weapon against a sense, because a sense and content are shocked with these strange genders, soon shall fill up pages of books and lines of imagists.

The triumph of the image over the sense and the emancipation of a word out of the content are closely connected with a destruction of an old grammar and with a transition to imgrammatic phrases.

Kubism of grammar – is a claim of a three-dimensional word. A transparency of a word is a  call of imagism. A depth of a word – is a claim of every poet.
We want to celebrate non-syntactical forms. We are bored of a sense of phrases: dobrogo utra! (good morning!) On khodit!.. (He is walking!..) We like non-syntactical forms by theirs imagery and inanity: dobroy utra! or dobroy utry! or on khožu!

We furiously push into cases the unformed words: kakadu (a cockatoo, nominative), kakada (genetive), kakade (dative), kakadu (accusative), kakadoju (instrumental)!
Just as adjectives move across the genders: sinij (blue, masculine gender), sinaja (feminine gender), sineje (neuter gender), we want imperiously to move the adjective-nouns across genders (masculine, feminine, neuter): portnoj (a tailor, as a masculine g.), portnaja (feminine g.), portnoje (neuter g.), nasekomyj (masculine g.), nasekomaja (feminine g.), nasekomoje (an insect, as a neuter g.).

Once Brjusov made a mistake and wrote: the stairs are more stone! This is the first and sole gleam of his consciousness. And do not hesitate that not we have the honor first to produce degree of comparison of some adjectives. There are many such words, untouched, waiting for producing.

By words of theorists of grammar an adverb is an expression of the signs, that is in other words: an adverb may be attributed or to a verb, or to a adjective. But so we strongly believe the craving of adjectives to nouns is very high and becomes higher, hopefully, until an adverb will not disappear completely, it may be connected with a noun with no less success than near adjective and verb. Boring to write: skuchno pishet (he boringly writes), and it is much richer: skuchno pisatel (boringly writer); this is monotonous and uniform: porazitel’no krasivyj (strikingly beautiful), and it is more bright: porazitel’no krasota (strikingly beauty). This form partly is using. it is said, for example: «on ochen chelovek» (he is a very person), «on ochen mužchina» (he is a very man).

Tenses of verbs are not very closely connected with grammar. This imgrammary may  be explained, because everything has to be explained, by a vividness of speech! This is a characteristical explanation! We build in principle the frase «idu ja vchera po ulice i smotrju» (I go yesterday along the street and look around) in the name of this vividness of speech. Off with the sequence of tenses! Off with the sequence of persons: «prikaži on, ja by ispolnil» (if he orders, I would do this) – we will change, as a rule, into: prikažite on, i ja by ispolnim. Or: ja pojdu vchera i navernoje uvidel!

Tysjacha chelovek idet (singular); tysjacha chelovek idut (plural) (A thousand of persons go) – the verb does not know: whom to obey. «Kak possorilsja (he quarreled) Ivan Ivanovich s Ivanom Nikiphorovichem» in fact means «they quarreled». Everything is shaky. Everything is shaking and shaping in three dimensions.

People sometimes even permit a full lack of coordination between genders: kanalja ushel (a rascal went away), kalika perekhozaja (an errant beggar), sudja nepravednaja (an unjust judge). Why in that case «for a vividness», «an imagery» I can not say: «ogromnaja (feminine g.) morje (neuter g.)» (a vast sea)?

It is necessary to create the forms: svetaij (It am dawning), spljus’ (It am sleeping), vecherejesh (You am evening), morosju (I am drizzling), dremleshsja (I am drowsing), mne vjesjelitsja (I am amusing), mnje smeetsja (I am laughing), pomoshi ne prikhodila (help did not come).

It is necessary in conclusion to create a participle of future by principle: pridushij (having come), uvidjashij (having seen).

«Moje familje proshumjashij vekami» (My name will have been noising through epochs) – this is an example of imgrammatical frase of poetic speech.

Gradually owing to a falling off of a verb, a disorganization, as a principle, of images the verses of imagists will resemble, like the lines of Saint Pol Roux Magnificent, some calendar or a lexicon of images. We should not be embarrassed because a lyrical dressing, which is so attractive for young ladies of style of verbickaja-severjanin-balmont is not yet the necessary accessory of poetry. I am even inclined to think, to the detriment of my personal assessment, that there is more lyrism in an image, if there is less lyrics as a principle.

In these lines I am striking out myself and everything that I wrote before and throwing it in nonexistence. Because I do not think about new America, I see how I am swimming in the stream of the recognition I am swimming far into the backwater of sense and «deep ideas».

Now we are seeking for a new alloy of poetic lines; it is clearly that a sequence, periodicity, coherence and architecture of a building are directed into a hole. There are the blinding emptiness on the spot of all adjectives; a deeply-meaningful zero on the spot of all attainments, and for nearly, tired of tympanic call searches, weak in spirit people will proclaim a new return to an intimate quiet motet.

If in the cold to touch frozen iron – it makes burning a finger; It is easy to mix up a regress and progress, it is easy to succumb to the bait of a return to the restored nadsonovshina, what we are seeing now. Wolves lost the wolf look, and a jester-Harlequin begins again to wear the robe of Pierrot.
Be less aware! – it is a principle of a true artist. Or rather: to know only what is necessary for you.

Contemporary poetry does not make burns, only a pleasing warmth. This warmth hase to turn into embers. To do this we need to root out a philosophy, seducing us. We need to proceed to the fire of images. We need to remember about three-dimensional properties of  words, need to emancipate word, to destroy grammar.

So I pick up the reins of my disarranged thoughts and direct my charlatanic charabanc nowhere.

Vadim Shershenevich

February, 1920.

2 x 2 = 5.

«Pages of imagist». M., 1920.