Poet. Once regarded as a major figure of the "Silver Age" of Russian Literature. He was associated with the Symbolist movement but was primarily a lyricist; his imagery was colorful and impressionistic, his rhythms inherently melodious. The books "Let Us Be Like the Sun" (1903) and "Love Alone" (1903) represent Balmont at his finest. Composers Sergei Rachmaninoff, Igor Stravinsky, and Sergei Prokofiev set his verses to music. Konstantin Dmitrievich Balmont was born near Vladimir, into a noble family. He became a Socialist sympathizer in his teens and was expelled from both high school and Moscow University for illegal political activities. A linguistic genius, he mastered over a dozen languages and would later translate Shelley, Poe, Ibsen, Calderon, Whitman, and several Armenian poets into Russian. His first notable volumes of original poetry were "Under Northern Skies" (1894) and "Silence" (1898). Balmont also wrote his share of (mildly) anti-Czarist propaganda and from 1902 to 1905, and again from 1907 to 1913, he lived abroad as a political exile. During these periods he satisfied his wanderlust by traveling throughout Europe, the Middle East, the United States, Mexico, Australia, and India, gathering exotic material for his books. He returned to St. Petersburg under a general amnesty. Balmont welcomed the Revolution of February 1917, with its promise of Socialist reforms, but grew disenchanted after the Bolsheviks seized power in October. In 1920 he went to France on a temporary visa and never returned to his country. He continued to write, but his best work was behind him and he died poor and forgotten in Nazi-occupied Paris. Present-day critics have reduced Balmont to minor status though his translations (particularly of Poe) are still read in Russia. His other poetry collections include "Liturgy" (1905), "Poetry" (1906), "Ash" (1916), and "Northern Lights" (1931).
Bio by: Bobb Edwards