Poet Lev Ozerov: biography and creativity

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Poet Lev Ozerov: biography and creativity
Poet Lev Ozerov: biography and creativity

Video: Poet Lev Ozerov: biography and creativity

Video: Poet Lev Ozerov: biography and creativity
Video: Lev Ozerov. "Portraits without Frames" (Hunter College, April 15, 2019) 2023, December

Not everyone knows that the author of the famous aphorism "talents need help, mediocrity will break through on their own" was Lev Adolfovich Ozerov, a Russian Soviet poet, Doctor of Philology, Professor of the Department of Literary Translation at the Literary Institute named after A. M. Gorky in Moscow. Ozerov is a widely gifted person. He is the author of wonderful poems, translations, literary works. Finally, he is a talented caricaturist, whose brilliant fleeting portraits of famous writers, Ozerov's colleagues in the shop, still captivate with their enthusiasm, conciseness of lines and at the same time accurately convey the appearance of the sitter.

In the article we will talk about Lev Ozerov and his work.


Lev Adolfovich Goldberg (this is his real name) was born in 1914 in the family of a Kyiv pharmacist. He studied at a seven-year school, after graduation he tried himself in many professions - a draftsman's student, designer, correspondent and even a violinist in an orchestra. About how hard life was in those days, the poet himself later recalled:

Born in 1914, I survived all the wars of a century and threehunger. Especially the famine in Ukraine in 1930-1933, which Ukrainians call the stronger word "Holodomor". We hung by a thread, how we survived is incomprehensible. I had already gone through the violin school, the conductor's school, I had my own compositions, I was drawing, I was already starting to write, I was getting approval, but because of hunger I had to give up everything and go to labor at the Kyiv Arsenal. He carried materials from the tool shop to the warehouse - there was strength - and pushed the trolley. At home, he was happy that he brought a handful of porridge and fish tail…

At the age of 20, the future poet Lev Ozerov moved to Moscow and became a student at the Moscow Institute of Philosophy, Literature and History. He graduated in 1939, among the graduates with him were Alexander Tvardovsky, David Samoilov, Konstantin Simonov, Sergey Narovchatov and others.

Lev Ozerov biography
Lev Ozerov biography

Then Lev Ozerov continued his postgraduate studies and two years later he successfully defended his PhD thesis. This happened in 1941. Soon the young candidate of sciences was called to the front and became a war correspondent. He wrote for radio and press, including reports for the divisional newspaper of the 59th Guards Rifle Division "Victory is ours".

The year 1943 became important in the biography of Lev Ozerov. Then he became a teacher at a literary institute, and later - a professor at the department of literary translation, a doctor of philological sciences. Proving himself to be an excellent teacher, he taught students the art of writing until his death in 1996.

The start of the journey

Lev Goldberg started writing poetry early. Later in his memoirs he will write about it:

The first poems in childhood composed, not knowing what it is - to write poetry. Spring Kyiv afternoon, rain, I run from the street into the house and immediately - to the table. Delight before the spring rain dictated lines to me. Thunderstorm and poetry intermarried.

For the first time his creations were published when the poet was already eighteen.

By the way, Leo was born and grew up on the ancient and famous Tarasovka (Tarasovskaya street in Kyiv) - the same "street of poets", which began to be built up before the middle of the 19th century. The history of this street is associated with such names as Maximilian Voloshin, Anna Akhmatova, Semyon Gudzenko, Lesya Ukrainka.

Book cover
Book cover

In his youth, the aspiring poet read the poems of Eduard Bagritsky, Nikolai Tikhonov, Mikhail Svetlov, with special attention, according to the memoirs of his contemporaries, he treated the poetic works of Boris Pasternak. At least some reports in the literary studio led by Nikolai Ushakov, which Lev Goldberg then attended, were devoted to the work of this particular poet. In addition, personal acquaintance with him also affected. Later, literary critics will write that for Ozerov, Pasternak was the spokesman for "high tragedy", which became the ideological dominant of poetic creativity and Ozerov himself.

Lev Adolfovich also talked with such masters of Russian poetry as Anna Akhmatova, Mikhail Zenkevich, Pavel Antokolsky and Nikolai Zabolotsky.

Creative career

In 1945-1949. worked in the capital's literarymagazine "October", was a member of the editorial board.

The first collection of poetry by Lev Goldberg appeared in 1940, eight years after the first publication of poems. It was called "Pridneprovie". Like the following editions of the poet's poems, the books were favorably received by critics, among whom, in particular, were Ilya Selvinsky and Mikhail Svetlov. In total, about 20 collections of poetry were published during the life of the poet.

During his lifetime, Ozerov was actively published in newspapers and magazines - his poems, poetic works, essays were published in such publications as Literaturnaya Gazeta, Ogonyok, Arion, etc.

Lev Ozerov had many pseudonyms. At the beginning of his career, he signed with his real name, and Kornev, and Berg … He himself later admitted that he had been looking for his pseudonym for a long time. Until I found it, I went through about thirty different ones.

Axelrod M. M., Portrait of Ozerov
Axelrod M. M., Portrait of Ozerov

Lev Ozerov was also a master in the field of literary translation. He translated from Ukrainian, Lithuanian, Abkhazian, Ossetian, Georgian, Armenian, and Yiddish. This activity was not something separate, some special occupation for the poet. He himself said that he considered his translations as a natural continuation of the original work.

In 1999, three years after his death, one of the most famous works of Lev Ozerov came out. These are made by the technique of free verse and collected in one book "Portraits without frames" - poetic memoirs,memories of the poet's contemporaries, with whom Ozerov had a chance to meet and talk. They were written with unfailing respect and sympathy for the difficult fate of contemporaries. Here, for example, is the ending of free verse dedicated to the prose writer Isaac Babel:

Smeshinki, sly, sparkle eyes, His large head attracts attention, She is still neither troubles nor sorrows

Does not foresee, And they are in a few years

They will fall heavily on this head.

Belatedly she will be paid.

People have a habit like this, But that's another topic.

Lev Ozerov died at the age of 82. The poet's grave is located at the Vostryakovskoye cemetery in Moscow.

Grave of Lev Ozerov
Grave of Lev Ozerov

Positions and titles

Shortly after the release of the first book, Lev Ozerov was admitted to the Writers' Union of the USSR and remained in it until the end of his life. He was awarded the Order of the Badge of Honor.

In 1980, Ozerov was awarded the title "Honored Worker of the Lithuanian SSR" for his work on translations from the Lithuanian language.


Ozerov was once called a cultural treger or a cultural missionary. As a researcher, he devoted his works to many poets, including those about whom in that situation it was customary to remain silent rather than speak. He wrote articles about talented contemporary poets whose life path was overshadowed by Stalinist repressions, about those who died during the war years or died early.

Lev Ozerov was an excellent mentor - patient, attentive and meticulous. Knowing a lot. He devoted his whole life to teaching young writers at the Literary Institute. For a decade he led the Creative Association of Young Poets at the Moscow Automobile Plant. Likhachev.

Literary criticism

The first scientific works on literature were written by Lev Ozerov during his studies at the institute.

two books
two books

The article "Poems of Anna Akhmatova", published in the "Literaturnaya Gazeta" on July 23, 1953, after many years of silence, has become a real phenomenon in the study of the work of the famous poetess. As you know, Akhmatova herself called Ozerov's article "a breakthrough in the blockade".

There were many other studies - about Akhmatov's poetry, about the work of the "sixth acmeist" Zenkevich. And among the poetic heritage of Lev Adolfovich there are many poems dedicated to Akhmatova, Pasternak, Aseev.

Ozerov's comments to Boris Pasternak's collection (1965) can be considered a brilliant scientific work. This one-volume book was prepared for printing by Ozerov himself and saw the light in the series "Poet's Library". Lev Adolfovich remained faithful to his youthful passion for the work of Boris Pasternak for the rest of his life. The video shows one of the lectures he gave at the evening in memory of the poet in 1994.


Later, whole books were written - monographic studies on the work of Afanasy Fet, Fyodor Tyutchev, Evgeny Baratynsky, Konstantin Batyushkov.

The undoubted achievements of Lev Adolfovich include"pioneer" for the broad masses of readers of the poetry of Zenkevich, as well as Sergei Bobrov and Maria Petrov.

Edited by Ozerov and compiled by him, poetry collections by Pyotr Semynin, Georgy Obolduev, Alexander Kochetkov were published. The collection of poems of the latter, en titled "Do not part with your loved ones!", Released in 1985, became especially popular.


According to the memoirs of Lev Ozerov's contemporaries, he had an amazing and rather rare trait for a creative person - he knew how to admire his fellow writers. In the literary workshop, it is often customary to look down on others (or at least not to notice), considering yourself and only yourself a real genius.

Lev Adolfovich in this sense was a modest person. A real intellectual. Bowing to the skill of other writers, he respected and appreciated them. Often he defended against attacks and, as best he could, contributed to the promotion of their work.

And one of the students, recalling the years of communication with Ozerov while studying at the literary institute, wrote about him like this:

He was naive in a way. He believed in democracy, that people in power were driven by something bright, and when I gave him examples of the opposite, he exclaimed: "How can they! But it's impossible! It's dishonorable! It can't be!" And it was so sincere that I could never suspect him of any hypocrisy.


Leo Adolfovich Ozerov's own poetic style was distinguished by brevity and precision of expression. Notby chance, individual phrases from his creations became aphorisms and, as they say, "went to the people." This is one of the most remarkable features of his poetry.

Ozerov reads poetry
Ozerov reads poetry

By the way, not only poetry - and diaries, which he kept almost all his life, are concise, almost unemotional. Events only. The poet wrote about the formation of his style:

First, I established external correspondences in the world, admired them and tried to convey them in the corresponding sounds. Then everything went deeper. The essence attracted with its infinity.

As for the general credo of his poetic work, Lev Ozerov expressed it this way:

I live by verse, through verse I know the world and myself. Like ambulances and fire engines, poems go through red lights. They go ahead of articles, translations, teacher's work. They are written only at the call of the heart, which, by the way, guides the actions of the poet. I wanted to be not so much flashy as useful. Be useful to the Fatherland. To contribute to the change of such an imperfect world. Without this - albeit naive - belief that a word can move mountains, one cannot write. Without faith it is hard to live and work…


The poems of Lev Adol'fovich Ozerov should rather be called poetic miniatures - the words in them are so appropriate, connected with each other and you cannot throw out a single one without losing the general meaning. So, for example, repetitions in one of the most famous lyrical miniatures by Lev Ozerov (“I think aboutyou , 1964):

I want to think about you. Thinking of you.

I don't want to think about you. Thinking of you.

Others I want to think about. Thinking of you.

I don't want to think about anyone. Thinking of you.

In another piece, he masterfully describes a frosty day. In Lev Ozerov's poem "March Shadows in the Snow" (1956), a picture of nature waking up after a winter sleep is conveyed and what a ski track on loose spring snow can tell the poet about:

March shadows in the snow…

I just can't get enough of it.

In loose snow, in the radiance of the day

The blue cut track.

I guess I'll slip through it

To the March sun of southern days.

To the March warmth of old years, Years lost trace.

I can't tear myself away

From the shadows trembling in the snow.

Many poets wrote about the power of the influence of music on our souls. Here is how Lev Ozerov brilliantly did it in the poem "I Can't Tell Music":

Can't tell music, And I dare not tell the music, And go dumb listening to music.

My dumbness is not a hindrance to me, And for sorrow and for laughter to me.

The fullness of being opens up

At the hour when I listen to music.


The craving for capacious, essentially accurate statements gave rise to this passion for the poet Ozerov. Here are just a few of his well-known aphorisms:

All my life I'm going to live…

Poetry is hotworkshop.

From your hands, stale bread is soft to me.

About Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg):

A great city with a regional destiny.

And here is another statement that became history. Now hardly anyone remembers that in 1952 the old monument to Nikolai Gogol (1909) was, according to the wish of the leader of all peoples, replaced with a new one. The former monument showed a pensive, sad, even mournful writer (which Stalin did not like very much), but the new one, created according to the project of Tomsky, a sculptor, winner of several Stalin Prizes, in 1952 revealed the smiling Gogol to the world. The former monument was temporarily placed in one of the courtyards nearby, later it was installed in the park near the Gogol House Museum on Nikitsky Boulevard. Ozerov's phrase-poem was dedicated to this fact, short, like a sigh of regret, which at that time was well known to many:

Merry Gogol on the boulevard, Sad Gogol in the yard.

The following aphorism about glory and immortality - we will find verses on this subject from any poet:

There is a line for now, There is a line for the ages…

And finally, the famous saying, so often quoted that no one remembers the name of its author:

Talents need help, Mediocrity will break through!

It is a pity that such a wonderful and bright poet, this multifaceted gifted personality, as well as the poems of Lev Ozerov themselves, were almost completely forgotten in our time.

Glasses and books
Glasses and books

We talked about the Russian Sovietpoet Lev Adolfovich Ozerov.