joseph brodsky

joseph brodsky, gouache on paper, 24" x 20"


joseph brodsky (1940-96), russian-born poet, born in saint petersburg  (leningrad). arrested and tried as a "parasite" by the soviet government in 1964,  was sentenced to five years in a labor camp.

throughout his short trial, he was serious, quiet, respectful,  firm in his conviction about what he was put on earth to do:

excerpted from his court proceedings:

judge: tell the court why in between jobs you didn’t work and led a parasitic life style?

brodsky: i worked in between jobs. i did what I do now: i wrote poems.

judge: you wrote your so-called poems? and what was useful about your frequent job changes?

brodsky: i began working when i was 15 years old. everything was interesting to me. i changed jobs because i wanted to learn more about life, about people.

judge: what did you do for your motherland?

brodsky: i wrote poems. that is my work. i am convinced. . . .i believe that what i wrote will be useful to people not only now but in future generations.

judge: do you think your so-called poems are good for people?

brodsky: why do you say of my poems that they are “so-called”?

judge: we say that because we are suspicious of their purpose, feel they incite liberal thinking behavior to those who read them, have good reason to believe that they disguise an attitude of an anti-government viewpoint.

brodsky:  well, in that case,  i pronounce my poems as an earthly treasure, freely given to anyone, may they shine on for all eternity..i am guilty on all accounts. ..bring it on!

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