I was born in the village of Konstantinovo, Kuzmin district, Ryazan Region, on October 21st, 1895.
At the age of twoI was sent to be raised in a well off family of my grandfather on my mother”s side, who had three grown up unmarried sons, with whom I spent almost all my green years. My uncles were mischievous and daring.
When I was three years old they put me on a horse without a saddle and set him running at a gallop. I remember I was scared like crazy and held the withers firm. Then they taught me to swim. One of my uncles (uncle Sasha) took me on a boat, rowed off the shore, undressed me and threw me, like a puppy, into the water. I worked with my hands awkwardly, and while I floundered waving my hands he kept shouting: “You damned wretch! Good for nothing, you!”. “Damned wretch” was a tender pet name he used.
When I was eight years old my other uncle would use me as a hunting dog making me swim after the ducks
he had shot. I was good at climbing trees. Among the boys in the neighbourhood I was known as a horse breeder and a big fighter, for I would always have scratches on my face. My grandmother was the only one who reproached me for being so naughty, while my granddad would sometimes set me on to fisticuffs and often said to grandmother: “Don”t touch him, you, silly woman, he will grow firm and strong that way!”. Grandmother loved me devoutly, and her tenderness was boundless. On Saturdays I would be washed, have my nails cut, and my hair crimped with some oil because my curly hair couldn”t be combed in any other way. But the oil would not help much. I would shout like crazy, and up to now I feel some distaste and repugnance for Saturdays.
That was the way my childhood went on. When I grew up a little they wanted to make a village teacher out of me, so I was sent to the parish teachers training school with an eye towards entering Moscow Teachers Training Institute. Luckily this was not to happen.
I started writing poems at an early age, maybe at the age of nine or so, but I think deliberate creative work started at 16 or 17. Some of my poems from that period are to be found in “Radunitsa” magazine.
When I was eighteen I sent my poems to various magazines and I was surprised at the fact that hey refused to publish them, so I went to Saint Petersburg. I was given a warm welcome there. The first man I saw was Blok the second one was Gorodetsky. When looking at Blok I was sweating all over for it was the first time that I saw a living poet. Gorodetsky acquainted me with Kluyev, the man I had never heard of before. Kluyev and I, despite the seeming discord and lack of agreement between us, made great friends.
At around this time I entered Shanyavsky University where I spent a year and a half, and then I went back to my village.
At the University I got acquainted with poets Semyonovsky, Nasedkin, Kolkolov, and Filipchenko. Among the poets I liked Blok, Bely and Kluyev best. Bely gave me a lot in the way of form while Blok and Kluyev taught me lyricism.
In 1919 some of my friends and I published the manifesto of imagism. It was a formal school that we wanted to set up. But it had no foundation and died by itself leaving the truth behind the restricted image.
I would gladly disown many of my religious poems but they are significant as the way of a poet towards the revolution.
When I was eight years old my grandmother started taking me to all kinds of monasteries and thanks to her we had all kinds of ramblers and pilgrims.