November 27, 2012
Acmeism was a short-lived poetic group, also called the Guild of Poets, which began around 1910 in Russia beginning with the poets Nikolai Gumilev and Sergei Gorodetsky. The central focus of Acmeist poetry (the word taken from the Greek acme, meaning “the best age of man”) was to make poetry more clearly expressive and compact.
Acmeist concerns were first described by Mikhail Kuzmin in his 1910 essay, “Concerning Beautiful Clarity.” But the ideas as expressed by Gumilev and Gorodetsky were centered what they saw as an Apollonian purity (the group’s magazine was titled Apollo) as opposed to a “Dionysian frenzy” argued for by the Russian Symbolists such as Andrei Bely and Vyacheslav Ivanov. As opposed to the Symbolists’ attempt to intimate through symbols, the Acmeists sought a “direct expression through images.”
Another member of the group, Osip Mandelshtam, in his essay “The Morning of Acmeism” (1913), extended the group’s goals to include a yearning for world culture, naming such poets as Alexander Pope, Théophile Gautier, Rudyard Kipling, Innokentiy Annesky, and the Parnassian poems as their predecessors.
The central poems of Acmeism included Nikolai Gumilev, Osip Mandelstam, Mikhail Kuzmin, Anna Akhmatova, and Georgiy Ivanov. The met, generally at The Stray Dog Café in St. Petersburg.