Sergey Yesenin and Isadora Duncan: passion, quarrels, jealousy

They say love lives for three years. Yesenin and Duncan thought that they would refute this persistent myth, and in the end they painfully divorced 2 years after the wedding. Their creative union became a whole era in the culture of the 1920s, and their ebullient marriage was overgrown with many ominous and romantic legends.

Yesenin and Duncan

Only two years later, Duncan seems to have aged ten. Drunkenness and debauchery of her husband, quarrels, jealousy, assault … She tried to educate and calm him down, he only raged more. She went on a journey with him, when he returned, he began to tell his friends that he no longer needed his wife. And he ran.

The long-awaited first meeting: “Angel!”

But it all began as in the best fairy tales.

Isadora Duncan was the founder of free dance and regularly toured Russia, winning the hearts of every spectator. She was admired by most of the poets of the Silver Age, dedicated poetry and dreamed of getting to performances. Alexander Blok saw the dancer as the embodiment of Eternal Femininity, and Andrei Bely called the girl a harbinger of “the life of happy humanity.”


And although in Europe she was also always admired, and the beauty of her native California spaces captivated her until her death, Russia fascinated in a special way. And when Lunacharsky suggested that she open a dance school in Moscow and stay to live there, 44-year-old Isadora, of course, agreed.

And Sergei Yesenin was then 26 years old, and he was known as a poet-imagist with a reputation as a rebel. His hooligan character also fell in love with hundreds of ladies, especially since the guy’s appearance was memorable: country curls, which with age increasingly began to be covered with a top hat, patent leather shoes and panache.

He was a maximalist and never wanted to stand still. To become the best version of himself was his own liberation. It is not surprising that the revolutionary spirit of the “queen of gesture,” as Duncan was called in bohemian circles, captivated him.


The stars came together. The famous sculptor and painter Georgy Yakulov suddenly decided to introduce Yesenin to Izadora. The man made an appointment for them at the Hermitage. The poet came earlier and, like a madman, was looking for Duncan in all the neighborhoods, looking into the halls and frightening passers-by with the bustle of the open stage. But Sergei and Isadora missed each other.

Fortunately, a new opportunity to meet appeared very soon – the same Yakulov had a party. The dancer showed up late at night. With her red Greek tunic and copper hair, she attracted the attention of all those present, but she was worried about only one person. The future lovers met their gazes, and after a moment the lyricist was sitting at her feet.

He did not know English, she did not understand Russian. But that was not a problem: the intuitive language of poetry and movement allowed them to hear each other. And the ten Russian words that Isadora knew were enough to convey everything that was happening in her soul. In the first minutes of the meeting, the girl ran her hand through her flaxen hair.: “Zo-lo-ta-i go-lo-va!” Kissed: “Angel!” Once again: “Tshort!”

Yesenin and Duncan 2

So they sat together all night, and in the morning they left the event, holding hands. And together they drove home for a long, long time, unable to take their eyes off each other. A slumbering cabman, who did not know the area well, inadvertently made circles around the church several times. “Married!” – the poet burst out laughing, looking in love at the incomprehensible brown-haired woman.

From the candy-bouquet period to reality: “My milk will turn sour in Greek vases”

But romance soon faded, and discord came in its place. It turned out that Yesenin and Duncan are complete opposites. They are like yin and yang, but this did not add spark and passion to their tandem – rather, it destroyed it.

She loved loud feasts, and her mansion became a meeting place for the creative intelligentsia. And Seryozha was jealous and thirsty for attention, he wanted his beloved not to leave him a single step. Anatoly Mariengof told how at a regular party Yesenin, who indignantly tore off the portrait of Isadora’s ex-husband Gordon Craig from the wall, exclaimed: “I … Yesenin is a genius, and Craig is rubbish!”, and began to demand from Duncan dance – this very second.

The girl loved the capricious poet more than life. And if he wants to dance, she will dance. They write about that evening:

“Having put on Yesenin’s caps and a jacket, the“ barefoot ”starts dancing. In her hands, a scarf scarf flows, wriggles, which at the end of her life will squeeze her throat. Later, this story was often associated with the myth of the dissolute Salome, who killed the inexperienced John. So, obeying Yesenin’s whims, Isadora was the leader in this dance, but not the leader. “

Yesenin and Duncan 3

In the end, the artist got used to the requirements of her husband, and she herself seemed to like to constantly be with him. She was 18 years older, and constantly felt maternal care for her beloved – especially since Yesenin really reminded her of her deceased son. At first, Sergei was fascinated by this, over time – it began to choke.

Yesenin got tired of the constant caress and advice, and he turned into a spoiled boy who is forbidden too much. Scandalized almost daily. Swearing tirades, drunken screams, unhealthy jealousy and even assault … Duncan endured motherly and calmed her lover every time – there were even rumors that she liked it when her husband beat her.

Sergei did not calm down. More than once, like an offended teenager, he ran with a bundle in his hands: a pair of pants, socks and a shirt … But he came back again:

“Isadora has diabolical power over me. What is it to me? What am I to her? My poems … My name … After all, I’m Yesenin … I love Russia, cows, peasants, the countryside … And she loves Greek vases. In Greek vases, my milk will turn sour … And yet I return to her. “

Big trip or trying to fix it all

In the spring of 1922, the dancer decides to leave Russia – she and her dance school had nothing to live on. And abroad they were waiting for her, they wanted to arrange a big tour with the participation of the best students. At the same time, leaving the girl wanted to distract Yesenin from bitter thoughts and alcohol: she hoped that in America he would get carried away with something new.

Yesenin 2

To avoid problems with the strict morality police of Europe, Isadora breaks her oath never to marry and invites Yesenin to formalize their relationship. He, already in anticipation of a new life and world fame, agrees to the adventure. Early in the morning in the registry office of the Khamovniki Council, the bully and the dancer were declared husband and wife. They had double surnames written in their passports.

Before the flight, Isadora bequeaths all her property and property to Sergei Yesenin-Duncan.

Yesenin and Duncan 4

The poet quickly settled in the new city, especially since connoisseurs of poetry knew him even before his arrival. The man met Maxim Gorky, met with Russian emigrants and read poetry in the “House of Arts” – when the lyricist first appeared there, everyone shouted obscenities at him. But his reading of poems pierced the soul – and they loved him.

So he really found new hobbies and friends, only he did not give up his addictions – he kept a bucket of beer under the bed and regularly went into wild dances with new friends and drunken abuse at his wife. Isadora could barely withstand his rowdy and did not skimp on anger in response.

America shocked the poet with its “bourgeois lack of spirituality.” Here he did not find a place for himself – partly because he was not known here. He is nothing more than the husband of a great dancer. Sergei began to insist on an urgent return to his homeland.

Yesenin and Duncan 5

But on the way home, Sergei became famous – Parisian journalists in all newspapers scribble about Yesenin’s madness and hooliganism. Isadora shields her lover by publishing a response letter:

“I took Yesenin out of Russia, where his living conditions were monstrously difficult in order to preserve his genius for the world. He returns to Russia to keep his sanity, and I know that many hearts around the world will pray with me that this great and imaginative poet will be saved for his future creations, full of Beauty, which the world needs so much. “

End. “I love another. Married and happy “

Upon returning to Russia, it became clear that marriage had no future. Yesenin, more than ever, was indignant at Isadora’s obsessive care, and in conversations with friends he emphasized that abroad he was “better remembered than Duncan,” and he no longer needed her.

The wife did not stop trying to save her poet, increasingly depriving him of space and loneliness. The circle is complete. The spouses are becoming more and more distant from each other.

yesenin and duncan 6

Yesenin once again arranges an escape. Isadora, in confusion and despair, leaves for the Caucasus, sending her beloved a heap of letters for several months, in which she begs to return. Yesenin is fond of other women and answers less and less. And soon it completely ceases to remind of itself, finally sending a telegram that wounded Duncan in the very heart: “I love another. Married and happy. “

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