A Russia of Iron & Gastev

Gastev’s poem “We Grow out of Iron” is a short, but powerful poem about the rise of a new Russia, one made of iron.  Utilizing iron as a motif, Gastev evokes that the new Russia is unlike anything in its history.

Iron has long been a symbol of strength, power, and industry in a variety of art forms and Gastev utilizes all three of these themes to create an image of the new Soviet Union.  Beginning with the aspect of strength, Gastev incorporates height, writing about beams that rise “to a height of seventy feet” (Gastev).  No other building material in use at the time could achieve the same heights that iron can.  Gastev uses this fact to show how the Soviet Union is rising anything that was in place before it, which could only be built from brick, wood, or stone.

Gastev also uses iron to show the sheer power that only metal can provide.  Gastev’s narrator declares that he is “growing shoulders of steel and arms immeasurably strong” (Gastev).  Gastev uses this to evoke the newly found strength of the Soviet Union and its unbreakable will to continue to progress.

Gastev, most importantly, uses iron as a symbol for industry in the Soviet Union.  No longer is Russia an agricultural state, but is now a nation of factories, furnaces, and forges. With constant references to metal architecture, the Soviet Union is not a country of small wooden huts, but of massive iron mills.

4 thoughts on “A Russia of Iron & Gastev

  1. I agree with your analysis of the importance of iron in Gastev’s poem and it’s symbolization of the growing industrial complex within the Soviet Union. It’s important that the Soviet Union focus on hard metals, such as iron, as you mentioned to distinguish the new nation from the old one consisting of wooden huts in order to demonstrate the Soviet Union’s modernity.

  2. I also agree with this analysis. However, you seem to mention something quite important at the end of your post. You stated that Russia wasn’t an agricultural state any more. I believe that this, alongside the emphasis on the iron, can be considered important. During the early years of the Soviet Union, emphasis was placed more on the industrial worker than the agricultural worker. We see this in the early propaganda posters, which Victoria Bonnell discussed and shared photos of in her book, “Iconography of Power: Soviet Political Posters under Lenin and Stalin.” To continue this conversation, why would the state place more emphasis on industry than agriculture, knowing that the problems going into the revolution stemmed around starvation?

  3. I agree with your analysis. The poem reminded me of the Palace of the Soviets, though contest for the Palace began after Gastev wrote his poem. Both the poem and the architectural structure evoke strength, industrialism, and the success of the revolution.

    Gastev seems to suggest that the iron could be symbolic of the leaders of the revolution, though, when he wrote, “They thrust upward, they are bold, they are strong. They demand yet greater strength.” While I don’t disagree with the literal interpretation of the iron, it seems as if Gastev also means for the iron to be a representation of the champions of the proletariat.

  4. It is interesting how prevalent the motif of iron is in future Soviet (and other communist regimes) times. One might think that iron is melded to represent whatever the author crafts it to be. It is the working class, the strength of the communist party, contains the capability to be forged into something new, and takes new form after its scorching heated molten state (revolution). However, iron has a tendency to rust if overused.

    It is interesting to think that if iron represents the Bolshevik (or soviets), that it will overtime degrade for lack of use or overuse. That is a much more significant motif when generalizing and seeing the broader picture of the fatal flaw of Russia’s communist journey: human nature. With so many people and so many different demographics within the Soviet borders (at its territorial climax), there are many difficulties that arise in terms of meeting Karl Marx’s standards of how to achieve his manifestos end state (even from Lenin’s time on).

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