Progress Through Poetry

“We Grow out of Iron” by Alexei Gastev and “The Iron Messiah” by Vladimir Kirillov both display discontent with the “old world” and seek to show a newer vision of society.  The future that they write about does not respect the divine rights of monarchs.  According to Kirillov, “he [the worker] destroys the thrones and prisons” (1).  One characteristic of modernity is a lack of respect for the monarchy.  Instead of a single leader deciding the fate of a country, many revolutionaries, including the proletarian Kirillov, sought to inspire revolution against the morals of the “old world.” They felt that Russia was an antiquated society.

Both of these poems respect the worker, specifically machines, for their efficiency, while decrying anything from the past. These poems were written during turbulent times in Russia.  “We Grow out of Iron” was written in 1914, while “The Iron Messiah” was written in 1918.  These poems were written at the time that Russian revolutionaries were plotting coups and fomenting violence to rid Russia of Tsar Nicholas II, who represented the more conservative, traditional Russia.  Russia’s attempt to become a modern state included more than just violence in the streets, however, it also included poetry.  By writing these poems, both Gastev and Kirillov were part of the revolution to end what they saw as antiquated practices in Russia (the monarchy).  Their works champion the Russian laborer, who is seen as unremarkable by Russians up until the revolutionary radicals adopted pro-worker platforms.  Up until the 20th century in Russia, worker’s rights were ignored.  These two poems represent the change in attitude that sought to make Russia a modern state.

1: Kirillov, Vladimir.  “The Iron Messiah.”