The Udmurt Feminine Poetry

Vasily Ohryakov

“A little orchestra of hopes…”
Bulat Okudzhava

In the feminine Udmurt poetry with its special rhythms one can feel clear influence of Ashalchi Oki (Lina Grigoryevna Vekshina), the forerunner of the contemporary recognised authors. Her poetry reflected the sad experience of her people, the darkness of the past ages, as well as her faith and belief in happiness and good fortune.

The contemporary Udmurt poets tend to draw experience of people brought up close to nature, and many a motif of the forest can be traced in their creative works.

Not only have the poetesses of Udmurtia have won acclaim in their own country but translations of their poems are published in other Finno-Ugric languages as well. Whatever the reasons of Udmurt poets having not reached world-known merits, these are irrelevant. It is difficult for a small developing nation to compete with those who gained leadership after centuries of development of their religious and philosophical self-consciousness. Concerning the nation’s future, creative work of the Udmurt feminine poets cannot be underestimated – as well as the revival of Udmurt religious tradition and philosophical synthesis – being means of uniting the nation and expressing its spirit.

Alla Kuznetsova is one of those poets who inherited the daring, passionate style of Ashalcha – being perhaps even more unrestrained and bold in revealing the unexpressed, in expressing the hidden: the secret feelings from the bottom of a woman’s heart.

A wanderer on her long road to Eternity, she asks herself, ‘I still cannot find my way, so why should I hurry?’ So she makes an attempt to cast away human illusions; unprotected and fragile like a captured butterfly, she opens her heart in candour.


I am a mare

Loaded with a heavy cart.

No matter whether I endure, I was told, “haul!”


I am the leader of a sheep flock,

Surrounded by rams.

They are bleating, butting, jumping and playing.


I am a cow, too.

I’ll calve, I’ll give milk,

I will live in the cow-house.


I am a fly caught in the cobweb,

Powerless to escape from the tight net.

Probably I am transforming into a spider, too,

To finally hobble and destroy myself.

I am a snake and a pigeon, a frog and a flower –

I appear a beauty to myself and then I calm down.


I am a deserted woman in loneliness.

Believe it or not –

My patience is equal to that of beasts.


The poetical world of Alla Kuznetsova is sensuous and centred around eternal problems. Her favourite motifs are love, affection between man and woman, the theme of native land and the home. She is very natural – like Nature itself, like the wind and the rain – and absolutely free. She is very gentle, too, and her poems for children are well understood by young readers.


* * *

Tatyana Chernova is another Udmurt poet known for her lyricism.

What shall I do with myself

if my soul flies in heaven?

My thought is ruffled

by unceasing wind.


Each human is a solitary molecule. The mystery of another person can never be unravelled; you just cannot install electric wires in other’s soul and look round, like in a supermarket. To sound in unison, our souls must preserve their integrity, and only love allows them to play the same tune. In the chasm called Life we must cherish the purity of our minds, avoid being driven by envy that destroys our souls, and guard our inner world from snow-slips of gossip:


It is cool in the shadow of love,

A flower would choke here, enfeebled.

One who happens to get here will slowly wither,

Fading even before there is time to blossom.


Tatyana Chernova’s manner is subtle and refined, yet the reader clearly perceives the power of Destiny that moves her.


sometime sometime

the hour will come

when I’ll fathom – like an arrow –

all the years gone by


In a way, she escapes to hermitage, seeking to collect her inner strength to be able to protect herself against brutality of the world.

You won’t find me,

You won’t enter my house:

In the circle of my heart

The years are coiled like a ring.


‘What you have in your heart is what you actually are’, said the Udmurt wise men of old. Tatyana Chernova’s poetry reminds us of a pure forest stream that begins at the foot of a big mountain. She needs no crowd; hers is intimate poetry.

* * *


‘Everything will repeat in this world’ – these words are from a poem by Ludmila Kutyanova. She meditates on the time passing away and her main theme is love.


Our lives are intertwined into a tress

I loved him, I loved him


She focuses on emotional experience of a woman longing for love:


Our life –

is just one cry –

from our birth till our death –

a cry of despair and entreaty –

‘Love me!



* * *


The spring has settled on the windowpane;

I feel like the spring myself.

For the yellow flower is like the sun

And the sun is always with me.


Sunny and cheerful, the poetry of Galina Romanova is inspired by her native land. She is convinced that life has its meaning and that people are not a mere dust whirling accidentally from Eternity.


The soul! You light remains unnoticed:

it’s so unlike the city lights –

the stream of rushing people light their way

with electric illumination.


We are part of the Universe; our hearts are longing for mystic feelings of sorrow and joy.

There is no reason to be scared in love –

Be daring, learn to fly!

One who would not reach for the stars

Will never be happy.


Many of Galina Romanova’s poems have gained wide popularity and turned into folk songs. Perhaps that is her straightforwardness in love that won them success.


If I were a bird

I would hover round my darling.

In the dawn I would sing on his shoulder

and never drop my loving eyes from him.


* * *

Typical of Lyubov Tikhonova’ poetry is reflection on the nature of grief and sorrow.


Maybe I am lucky,

maybe I’m ill-fated,

maybe I am a flower

of a burnt bird cherry.


The poet is always seeking way out of the dark in her strenuous attempt to find the right path.

‘…A day of chime I’ll find’, she promises. Through the trial of loneliness, through the days of sunshine and shadow she leads the reader to peace and fidelity.


It was your glance that burnt me –

It was your glance that dropped my heart on the axe.


Why does one’s destiny make one’s heart suffer so greatly?

Why won’t you realise the simplest thing?

It’s not so much the beauty of tulips

that I’m attracted but I’m longing for

magnetic words to hear from your lips.

Lyubov Tikhonova believes in love. It is love for your home, love of your friends, love everywhere that always wins.

* * *

The names mentioned in this article are not the full list of Udmurt feminine poets. Young authors are joining the ‘little orchestra of hopes’, each poet playing her own instrument: slightly melancholic Zoya Trukhina, romantic Svetlana Yakovleva, delicate and intense Luza Batretdinova, philosophically minded Nadezhda Demakova. It is to be hoped that the young authors, despite their differences, will cherish the tradition of melodious sound, the exactness of folk language and the charm of simple rhymes of their country.