Joseph Brodsky - Loneliness Poem

When your tired consciousness loses its balance ,

when the steps of this ladder

go from under your feet

like a deck, when your nightly loneliness

spits on humanity , you can think about eternity and doubt the purity of ideas, hypotheses, the perception of a work of art, and - by the way - conception of the son Jesus by the Madonna. But it is better to worship the given with its deep graves, which later, after a long time ago, will seem so sweet.

Yes It is better to worship the given

with its short roads,

which then will seem

strangely wide to you, will seem big, dusty, strewn with compromises, will seem like big wings, will seem like big birds.

Yes. It is better to bow to givenness

with its miserable standards,

which then, to the extreme,

will serve for you as a railing

(although not very clean),


your lame truths in balance

on this chipped staircase.

Analysis of the poem "Loneliness" by Brodsky

I. Brodsky felt the conflict with the surrounding reality at an early age. His first attempts to publish his works ended in failure. The complex and contradictory inner world of the poet was deeply alien to Soviet society. He is frustrated by misunderstanding and fierce criticism. Under these impressions, in 1959, Brodsky wrote the poem "Loneliness", in which he reflects on his position.

The author understands that he is in hopeless loneliness. Until this leads him to protest and try to change something. He compares his condition with the loss of balance. Since childhood, a person is confident in the inviolability of what surrounds him. Over the years, this confidence gradually fades. Along with mistakes and disappointments, faith in true feelings is lost, a person begins to doubt various opinions and theories. But in any case, something important always remains, so valuable that it is impossible to lose faith in it. Brodsky, on the other hand, felt that he had absolutely nothing else to cling to. His agonizing reflections in "loneliness at night" overturned all firm beliefs and threw all idols from their pedestals. The peak was the doubt in "the very conception of the Madonna of the son of Jesus."

Such reflections lead the poet to the idea that the best option would be to "worship the given", that is, to accept life as it is at the present moment. Endless doubts will only increase the suffering. If there can be no firm confidence in the future, then there is no point in cherishing fruitless hopes. The miserable present does not cause any joy, but someday it will also become a source of happy memories. The true value of life is known too late, when it is already impossible to change anything.

A person is unhappy because he considers his life constrained and limited. Only in old age will he realize that the "shortcuts" were actually incredibly wide. Life itself will inexorably narrow them, depriving them of the possibility of choice and alternative movement.

Brodsky compares the path of life with a “chipped staircase”. As long as people are young and full of energy, they may not use the railing, which is the "poor standard of givenness." But later, only they will help to stay on this ladder, they will serve as an invisible support for a person exhausted by life.

The poem "Loneliness" is imbued with motives of disappointment and despair. Brodsky realizes that the ground is being knocked out from under his feet very early, they are depriving him of the “railing” of life. The Soviet reality is unpleasant for him, but in any case it must be accepted so as not to be left alone forever. Given the future fate of the poet, the work can be considered prophetic. Brodsky was forced to emigrate, but he did not find a solid life support abroad either and considered himself an eternal wanderer.

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