The Esenin Museum
Text and photos by Marina Kashpar
In Bolshoi Strichenovski Pereulok in Moscow, surrounded by modern buildings, there is a two-storey wooden house in which poet Sergei Esenin lived in from 1911-1918. He began his close observations of Moscow from there, something that he undertook on foot. “I Iove this elm tree town,” he once proclaimed. There aren’t so many elm trees around in Moscow boulevards today, they have been replaced by large maple trees, poplars and of course birches. The Esenin Museum opened in this house on the 100th anniversary of his birth.
Life in Moscow was not very kind to Sergei Esenin. He started work in the office of the merchant N.V. Krulov, where his father worked as a shop assistant. But trade and poetry were not compatible in Esenin’s mind, and he gave up this work. Looking for anything a bit closer to his interests, Esenin worked in a book shop, then as a senior proof-reader in the Sutin printing house.
The first publication of Esenin’s poem, The Birch, was in the January 1914, in the children’s magazine, Mirok. This event inspired him greatly, and Esenin decided to give up work and devote himself to poetry.
In 1915, he went to St. Petersburg, where he met such great Russian poets as Alexander Blok, Sergey Gorodetsky, and Nikolai Kluev. The next year he published his first book, Raduniza.
In early 1917, Esenin married actress Zinaida Raikh. Two children were born, a daughter Tanya and son Kostya, before they split up, after only a year together.
In the autumn of 1921, Sergei Esenin met the famous American dancer, Isadora Duncan, and married her. They spent the following year travelling abroad, visiting Germany, Belgium and America.
Returning to Russia, Esenin started to write the cycle of verses: Hooligan, The Confession of the Hooligan, and The Love of the Hooligan. In 1924 Esenin’s collection, Moscow Joint (Moskva Kabachkaya) was published, and he started to work on the poem, Anna Snegina (published in January 1925).
After parting from Isadora Duncan, Esenin married Sofya Andreevna Tolstaya, the granddaughter of Lev Tolstoy. But this marriage did not last long either, even for Esenin: just a couple of months.
Esenin lived in the house with his father, Aleksander Nikitich. His father worked as an assistant in the butcher’s shop of the merchant N.V. Krulov, who was the owner of the house.
When you enter the museum, right in front of the door a pre-recorded guide’s voice welcomes you in an eerie way. Then you come face to face with a plaster statue of the poet standing right behind the front door
Under your feet there is a floor that feels like a lawn, the ceiling looks like the wooden trussing of a village hayloft. And in the next room these wooden logs form a cross and something like an iconostasis.
A portrait of the young Esenin drawn on thin glass looks like a border between centuries, and behind it one can see a common apartment, a small room from the beginning of the XXth century.
It is difficult to say how the room might have looked when Esenin actually lived in it, but all the objects collected here are typical for that time and reflect the atmosphere of the poet. There is a lot to see here, and the visitor will be submerged not only in the life of Sergey Esenin, but of Moscow at that time.
Esenin House Museum: Bolshoi Strichenovski pereulok, 24, building #2 (Metro Serpuhovskaya or Paveletskaya)
Working hours: Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday from 11:00- 18:00, Wednesday from 14:00-21:00.
The museum is situated on the enclosed area, and to get there one should pass through a check point from the side of Bolshoi Strochenovski pereulok. No documents are needed, just say you are going to the Esenin museum.