Maximilian Voloshin at the age of 15 in 1893 visited Koktebel and fell in love with the beautiful land forever. He found the colours to express the Cimmerian landscape of the Crimea in painting and poetry. His house was visited by many famous writers, poets and artists: Veresayev, Alexander Grin, Ilia Erenburg and Alexey Tolstoy.
Maximilian Voloshin gave his own big house to his friends — writers, artists, poets, who visited him in hot summer and mild autumn. Maximilian helped them to keep their health and they lasted their creative work.
Mikhail Bulgakov, best known as the author of `The Master and Margerita’, was invited to come and stay in the house in Koktebel by Voloshin after his first novel `The White Guard’ began to be serialised in the journal «Russia» in 1925. Read more…
Voloshin was one of the first to recognise his talent and continued to encourage him after his return to Moscow to face a barrage of criticism for his sympathetic portrayal of a group of White Army officers during the civil war, and the book’s lack of a communist hero.
Poet, philosopher, painter, Voloshin lived in Koktebel permanently from 1916 until his death in 1932. His spiritual philosophy based on love for each unique individual led him to refuse to take sides in the Russian civil war of 1918-21, when he gave humanitarian assistance to both Red and White soldiers. He adopted Koktebel as his spiritual home and became widely respected as a man of wisdom and perception.
Koktebel, in turn, adopted him, and when local people pointed out to him that the rocky profile of a bearded man, clearly visible on the nearby Kok-Kaya headland above the sea looked very like him, he saw it as a symbol of his identification with the area and referred to it in his poem `Koktebel’. After his death it became known as `Voloshin’s profile’.
For me the sense of existence
Is not difficult to realize.
A seedlet that brings forth a life,
A secret of blossom, for instance,
In plants and in stones – everywhere,
In mountains and clouds above them,
In beasts and in starlets up there
I hear the singing of flame….
I’m kneeling down to kiss the ground,
The night wraps everything around,
My lips are feeling it is close,
The wormwood-scented breast of Yours,
Oh, Mother Earth!
Soon Voloshin’s house became the House of the Writers Union and «Koktebel home for Creative Work» was born. Maximilian Voloshin died on August 11, 1932.
He is buried on the top of the mountain ridge Kuchuk-Enishar not far from the Chameleon Cape.
The poet chose this place himself and he asked his friends never plant flowers or trees at his grave, but left a stone on the grave.
The Poet’s HouseThe door is open. Step across the threshold.
Before each path my house stands agape.
In whitewash-covered, cool monastic lodgings,
The wind sighs deep; here also dwells the roar
Of muffled waves that strike the level shoreline,
The smell of wormwood and cicadas’ screech.
The molten-metal sea beneath my window
Burns like brocade spread out in azure space.
The hillsides all around shine out resplendent
With spiny sunlight; wormwood’s silver knots
Grow like a tangled whirl of graying hair
Upon the desert’s slate-encrusted sands.
A land of tombs and prayers, meditations—
In my own yard, it’s even given birth
To meager shoots, ailanthus and acacia
Within a tamarisk hedge. And in the depths,
Beyond their leaves, by wind-gusts torn to pieces,
A toothed horizon-line of rocky peaks
Completes the bay, like an Alcaean poem,
With verses asymmetric and correct.
This is the joint of Caucasus and Balkans,
And the long shorelines of these barren lands
Have been bequeathed their share of lyric spirit
Since the volcano, in primeval days
Spewed fire from the depths, through yawning fissures
And shook its smoky firebrand at the sky.
Down there—beyond the profile of the cliffside
In which some kind of likeness is preserved
(My nose, my forehead, underbrow and cheeks)
A Gothic church collapsed, it rises still,
All bristling with spires yet unyielding,
Just like some kind of miracle of fire,
It raises high its flame of black basalt.
Over the distant sea, in grayish twilight,
A wall stands high. But Qara Dagh’s long tale
Cannot be turned to color in a painting,
Cannot be turned to words in meager tongue.
I have seen much. To wondrous creation
My tribute—words and pictures—I have paid…
But for this breath my breast is far too shallow,
My throat is far too narrow for this speech.
The seething maws by rivets are clamped tight,
And silent dark reigns in the earth’s cold bowels.
But all the same, the spasms and throes of passion
From ancient days have gripped this barren land.
The same dark guiding spirit, the same fervor
Exists in warring tribes and generations’ change.
And to this day my shores still harbor visions:
Achaean vessels treated with pine pitch,
Odysseus’s voice still calls upon the specters,
And the Cimmerian murk, in silence like lead,
Has spread and lies in wait in all the valleys
In black pits of oblivion on the paths.
A fathom deep, the river’s silt deposits
Are filled with shards of pottery and stones,
With human ash and bones and buried bodies.
The rains have washed into a single streambed
Crude Neolithic vessels of burnt clay,
And delicate broken vases from Miletus,
And vertebrae from peoples passing through.
Their likeness lost, their names long since forgotten.
Sarmatian swords and Scythian short arrows
A crest from Olbia, a lachrymal of glass,
And green-gray litharge from the Tatar country
Lies next to beads borne on Venetian ships.
And in the mortar of the guardsmen’s outpost
Amidst the rocks and pebbles lies encased
A patterned tile brought by Arab merchants
And from Byzantium a marble column piece.
What ancient traces does this land not keep
For archeologist and coin-collector?
From Roman badges, old Hellenic coins
To buttons from a Russian uniform.
Here, in these folds of dry land and of sea,
The mildew of man’s cultures never perished,
The span of centuries was overfilled
With teeming life until we Russians came.
Since Catherine, a hundred fifty years:
We trampled down the Muslim paradise,
Chopped down the woods, broke ruins into pieces,
Pillaged the land, and raped, and killed, and robbed.
The native huts gape empty and abandoned,
The hillside gardens torn up by their roots.
The people gone, the springs now run no longer.
No fish are in the sea. The fountains are parched.
And yet the death-mask’s frozen mournful likeness
Becomes the hills of this Homeric land.
Its raw, bared body is a touching sight
Revealing spines and ligaments and muscles.
The shades of those Ulysses had once summoned
Have had their fill of blood and wine again.
And in the recent past, the tragic years,
War and starvation and intestine strife
Baptized the nations with their sword and fire,
Raised all the ancient horror from the sea.
My house in those days, unseeing and deserted,
Preserved the right of refuge, like a shrine.
Only for fugitives its doors would ever open,
For those who fled the noose and firing-squad.
The Tsarist officer and Red commander—
Fanatics of irreconcilable beliefs—
Came here to seek beneath the poet’s roof
Some kind of shelter, counsel, and defense.
And I did all I could to stop my brothers
Killing each other, perishing themselves.
And I, too, read, with others in a column,
My name inscribed upon the bloody sheets.
But in those days of terror and informers,
The lucky lot did not forget my home.
It wasn’t seized, or burned by enemies,
By friends betrayed, by robbers left a void.
The storm died down. The blaze at last went out.
I took this life, this house, as a gift.
A gift by chance, entrusted me by fortune,
As if a sign—the earth adopted me.
The workshop turned full-front towards the water,
It faces, like a church, directly east.
Now once again the flood of human footsteps
Flows through its doors, and never halts its stream.
O guest, come in: shake off the dust of living
And at my threshold wash your mildewed thoughts.
Up from the pit of centuries, in greeting,
Will rise before you grim Queen Taiakh.
My shelter’s poor, and these are trying years.
But shelves of books rise up, a solid wall.
And every night I’ve guests for conversation—
Poets, historians, and writers, and divines.
And here their voices, powerful as organs,
Or low and muffled, or in whispers faint,
Won’t be drowned out by hurricanes in winter,
By grumbling Pontus, or by crashing waves.
Yet I have sealed my lips, and all the better:
It is more worthy to be learned by heart,
And scribbled later stealthily, in secret.
To be a notebook, not a book, through life.
Both you and I, we shared a signal honor—
As “guests on earth in fateful minutes,” we
Became more sad and clear-eyed than we were.
I am no outcast: I’m my country’s stepson.
And in these times I am its mute reproach.
This hermitage, this refuge I have chosen
To be a land of exile freely willed.
So that in days of lies, collapse, disintegration,
I may refine in solitude my soul,
And understanding find in suffering.
So heed you, then, the lesson of my country:
As Greece and Genoa departed in their time
Thus all shall pass—and Europe just like Russia.
The elemental blaze of civil strife
Will dissipate…New centuries will come
And into worldly ponds cast other nets.
The days grow old, and humans disappear.
But sky and earth remain immutable.
So live the present day, and lift in blessing
Your hand upon your blue horizon-line.
Like wind, be simple, always full, like sea,
And like the earth, with memory suffused.
And fall in love with sails of distant vessels,
The waves that sing upon the sea’s expanse.
The trembling life of all the days and races
Lives in yourself. Always. Already. Now.