Derzhavin Gabriel Romanovich (1743 - 1816), a poet.
He was born in the family of Kazan noblemen who owned a small estate. Derzhavin early lost the father. Not ending grammar school, Derzhavin was called up for military service. "In this academy of needs and patience I learned and educated myself", he would say later. The first poetic works of Derzhavin go back to the time when he was a soldier in Preobrazhensky regiment in St. Petersburg. Along with the regiment he participated in the palace revolution, which enthroned Catherine the Great.
Resolute and courageous, independent in judgments, with strongly developed self-respect, Derzhavin invariably caused sharp dislike of his superiors. Derzhavin was wrongly left without awards: they declared that he was "unworthy to continue military service". Having been in public service for some years under command of prince Vyazemsky, Derzhavin was compelled to retire. In these difficult for Derzhavin years his literary talent really blossomed.
His verses, though anonymously, appeared in magazines and deserved the attention of readers. Creation of one of the most significant in idea and energy of poetic expression works of Derzhavin dates to this time - it is the ode "On the death of prince Meshchersky". But the real fame came to him only in 1783, after appearance of his well known, addressed to Catherine II, "Ode to Felice" (from the Latin word meaning "happiness").
He combined two various poetic forms in the "Ode to Felice" and created unknown before style - ode-satire. In addition to this, in the "Ode to Felice" instead of conventional abstract and ode-like "singer" there is a vivid personality of the author. All these became a real literary revolution. From the pen of Derzhavin the elevated ode poetry became alive and simpler.
Catherine, flattered by Derzhavin's ode, brought him back to public service. He obtained the highest state posts - the senator, the state treasurer, Minister of Justice. In the life of the poet there were a lot rises along with headlong falls. So, for example, he was relieved of the post of governor and brought before court. Empress appointed the poet as her personal secretary bur fired him soon. Derzhavin was in disfavour of Paul I and Alexander Ifinally removed him from all state posts in 1803.
Derzhavin bravely deprecated abuse of power and lawlessness in his verses. "The duty of a poet in the world is to tell world the truth", - he declared. Cconvinced during personal contact with Catherine that created in "The ode to Felice" image of empress is idealized, he refused to write any more laudatory verses for her. In a marvelous satirical ode "Grandee" the poet is ridicules proud of their ancestors' coat of arms "gilded dirt":
A donkey will remain a donkey,
Even if you shower it with stars;
Where it must use its mind,
It falls on deaf ears
As bitter is the poem "To rulers and judges", where the poet calls heaven thunders to burst above heads of "earth gods" - not only princes and grandees, but also above tsars. Derzhavin became one of the forefathers of civil poetry - predecessor of Radishchev, Pushkin and poets-Decembrists. At the same time in Derzhavin's verses the heroic spirit of his time, brilliant victories of the Russian armies were brightly reflected. He appreciated the greatness of civil and patriotic feat the most. In victorious odes "On seizure of Izmail", "On victories in Italy", "On march over the Alpine mountains" Derzhavin glorifies not only remarkable Russian commanders like Rumyantsev and, especially, Suvorov but also Russian soldiers.
Your spirit is invincible,
In heart you are simple,
in feelings kind,
In happiness you are silent,
in misfortune cheerful...
This poem devoted to Patriotic war of 1812 is adressed to 'glorious' Russian people. Derzhavin, one of first of poets-ode writers vividly and figuratively recreates private life and lifestyle of his epoch, paints colourful pictures of nature ("Invitation to dinner" etc.). At the same time, even in his best works, such as an ode "Waterfall", alongside with passages amazingly impressive and beautiful, there are a lot of artificial, rhetorical lines in his work.