St Petersburg 1768
Ivan Barkov, the obscene Russian poet, is dead….but no one can quite remember how.
Some say he was fatally injured during a bout of drunken sex in a brothel
Others maintain that he drunkenly fell into a privy and drowned.
One theory suggests he committed suicide. Leaving behind a heartfelt note reading, “lived
sinfully, and died ridiculously” which was found shoved up his arse.
Whatever the truth, his work will live on despite the fact that it is so pornographic,
it wasn’t published in his life time and won’t see the printed page for another 200
years. This isn’t to say he’s unknown. From the
moment, he came up with them, generations of Russians students have memorized, and scribbled
down his “Shameful Odes” as clever satires on Russian society and literary pretension.
They also think swearing’s really clever and funny.
A talented writer with a gift for languages Barkov ‘s own education was punctuated by
numerous disciplinary beatings for drunkenness, slander, carousing, insolence, and drunkenness.
He was finally expelled from the Academic Gymnasium in St Petersburg for fighting with
the police. In his work, Barkov popularized the use of
slang or Mat, combining the sophisticated language of the drawing room with the kind
of filthy smut you would hear from a gang of sweaty peasants pissed up on vodka.
His poems are funny, offensive, yet deeply poignant.
Who couldn’t fail to be profoundly moved by the plight of the impotent hero of his
poem Ebikhud (Nofuccus) Oh day, o unhappy day, O fate so cruel and
harsh! In vain do I survey my Pulchrovulvia’s charms,
And dream of plunging deep inside her lovely cunt,
Until I overflow in waterfalls of spunk- My wretched prick still droops; no woman I
might tup, No beauty in the world can firm my sausage
up. Barkov’s legacy can be found in the legendary
Russian poem Luka Mudischev which tells the heart-warming story of a man paid to have
sex with a board widow who accidentally kills her with his enormous penis.
It’s also present in the work of one of Russia premier literary giants, Alexander
Pushkin. In “Barkov’s Shadow” Pushkin pays tribute
to the man by penning the tale of a defrocked priest who signs a pact with Barkov’s ghost
in order to posses inexhaustible sexual prowess. So powerful is his erection that the nun who
tries to castrate him for his debauched ways takes one look at it, shits herself and drops
dead. now that’s a poem.