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July 19 marks the 122nd anniversary of the birth of Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovsky, the brooding James Dean of Futurism, and while his despair eclipsed his enormous talent, he lives on in verse. We choose the 10 best quotes from poems written by Vladimir Mayakovsky, full of passion and emotion. / Vladimir Mayakovsky, 1925.
"No gray hairs streak my soul,
no grandfatherly fondness there!
I shake the world with the might of my voice,
and walk – handsome,
twentytwoyearold." ("The Cloud in Trousers") / Mayakovsky aged 17, 1910.
"Listen! If stars are lit. It means there is someone who needs it, It means someone wants them to be." ("Listen") / (Left to right) Alexandr Rodchenko, Victor Shklovsky and Vladimir Mayakovsky, 1926.
"I've been over the globe
and life is good
and it's good to be alive
and in this struggling seething
mess of ours it's the best." ("Very Good") / Mayakovsky on vacation, 1923, Norderney Island, Germany.
"If you wish,
I shall grow irreproachably tender:
not a man, but a cloud in trousers!" ("The Cloud in Trousers") / Mayakovsky and Scotti, 1924.
"This little thing,
so dear to me,
from my loose pantaloons,
Read it and envy me:
I happen to be
of the Soviet Union." ("The Poem of the Soviet Passport"). / Mayakovsky at the editorial office, 1927.
"I would want to live and die in Paris if there were not such a place as Moscow." ("Farewell"). / Mayakovsky smoking a cigarette, 1924.
"I won't throw myself downstairs
or drink poison
nor can I put a gun to my head.
holds me transfixed
but your glance." ("To Lilichka"). / Mayakovsky and the love of his life, Lylia Brik, in Yalta, Crimea, 1926.
"Love's ship has foundered on the rocks of life.
We're quits: stupid to draw up a list
of mutual sorrows, hurts and pains." (Untitled last poem found after his death), 1930.
"I want to be understood by my country,
but if I fail to be understood –
I shall pass through my native land
to one side,
like a shower
of slanting rain." ("I want to be understood by my country"). Mayakovsky at his “20 Years of Work” exhibition, 1930.
Off with your hat!
I am coming!
Not a sound.
The universe sleeps,
its huge paw curled
upon a star-infested ear." ("The Cloud in Trousers").