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orn in Baghdati, Russian Empire (now Mayakovsky, Georgia) on July 19, 1893, he was the youngest child of Ukrainian parents who, in order to remain true to his beliefs, got himself in much trouble and even spent a few years behind the bars. He was and still is the Russian Revolution’s most celebrated poet… 

Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to the man behind A Slap in the Face of Public Taste, the “icebreaker” from the Land of Soviets – Vladimir Mayakovsky – the poet whose rebellious work established him as one of the more original artists of the Russian Futurism *a movement characterized by a rejection of traditional elements in favor of the change. In particular, his early work lacked the typical metrical structure, which was replaced by forceful rhythms, exaggerated imagery, and street language…

A futuristic mind with an ancient soul. 

[Now, I always had a weak spot for literature, in particular poems. And if I allow myself to continue, you will read and read… and read until the information becomes slightly indigestible and the topic of love slips your mind. I would normally allow myself to do so in the name of my love for literature and enjoy the confusion I have created, albeit what you truly want if I’m not mistaken, is to read a real fairytale with a slightly bitter end. Is that so, or have I just convinced you?]

I genuinely hope that you are still following because what I am about to share about my favorite rebel’s life is actually close to our messed-up reality…Vladimir’s personal life remained unstable until its very end, as he was torn between several women who inspired him. I’m to focus on the ones who had his heart…

The Muse of Russian Avant-garde

Let’s hop back to 1915 when Mayakovsky met Lilya Brik – one of the most famous and influential women in Soviet culture who happened to also be very much admired by all men…even Pablo Neruda himself called her “muse of Russian avant-garde”…

Vladimir described it as love at first sight and even claimed that all his written masterpieces came as a result of his love for her and their passionate relationship. However, despite Lilya being the love of his life, at the time when they met our rebel was dating her sister Elsa Triolet who opened the door to their eventual meeting. Our lovely Elsa once dared to invite Vladimir to the apartment of the Briks where he first read the poem The Cloud in the Pants, and then solemnly dedicated it to Lilya. So, to add some spiciness, the prototype of the heroine of this poem was the sculptor Maria Denisova whom he used to like not so long ago, back in 1914. Not to judge, just to imagine your faces…

Anyways, Lilya became Mayakovsky’s muse. That’s a well-known fact. The poet dedicated almost all his love poems to her and they even ended up playing together in the film Shackled by Film in 1918. Moreover, in 1918, Lilya and Vladimir began to live together, which was in line with the marriage-love concept that was once to exist [when people knew what they wanted, or thought it was a good idea to devote their life to another living human being… and did not consider it a death sentence. Yes, the good old times as great grandma uses to say…] 

Back to the topic. Vladimir was used to also having multiple love affairs with other women. In 1920, Mayakovsky had close relations with the artist Lilya Lavinskaya, who gave birth to their son Gleb-Nikita. This was not the end. In 1926, he met Ellie Jones who gave birth to his daughter Elena-Patricia who passed away in 2016. We all had our fair chance to ask her questions…

He also used to have love affairs with Sofya Shamardina and Natalia Bryukhanenko, yet his love for beautiful Lilya seemed endless, she is still alive somewhere there in his work, you can go and find her. 

Fair and square, she was more than a lover, she was his muse. As such, she was to receive luxury gifts…how about a car? In the autumn of 1928, the 35-years-old poet was going on a long trip, which turned out to be just a trip to France, where he aimed to buy his muse a nice new vehicle. So, he ended up in Paris, just on time to meet The Woman. 

When I saw her I was in love with her. Everything turned over inside of me.

A FAREWELL TO ARMS, Hemingway 

The Woman of His Heart

Tatiana Yakovleva (Source: Tatiana Yakovleva Leading Designer of Hats, available at:https://beautifulrus.com/tatiana-yakovleva-leading-designer-of-hats/)

Tatiana Yakovleva was born in 1906 in Saint Petersburg, into a professional family that found sanctuary in Paris after the Bolshevik Revolution thanks to Andre Citroen himself who was a friend of famous artist Alexander Yakovlev (Tatiana’s uncle), who helped him create sketches of future cars.
Tatiana arrived in Paris at the age of 19. Some say she required treatment for the “Captain of all these men of death” – tuberculosis, while others say that she used it as an excuse to leave Russia, albeit Mayakovsky did meet her at the doctor’s place when she had a bad cough, thus we are to assume that her sickness was real. 

One thing is sure, she was and still is an enigma. Her incredible beauty, coupled with her tender appearance and strength of character, was her weapon against the coldness of the world; the way this woman used to carry herself appeared to be a reason for many broken hearts. Including this of Mayakovsky, despite her being his platonic muse.

I loved you when I saw you today and I loved you always but I never saw you before…

FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS, Hemingway

After their initial meeting, they kept in touch and some say they saw each other on daily basis, albeit her heart remained untouched. The woman to reject Vladimir Mayakovsky himself…in Paris. 

She helped him pick a vehicle and let him get on with his journey (back to Moscow). 

Did she know of Lilya at that time? …

Did she know of his children? …

Didn’t she fall for our charming rebel?

From this instantly flared and not held love, with him remained deep grief, and with us – a magical poem “Letter to Tatyana Yakovleva” with the words: “I’ll take you one or two with Paris!”…

Ah, Paris, the reason for all our tears of joy, deep regrets, and all those beautiful accidents!

One thing we know for sure – she was The Woman to be remembered, as indicated by the tons of flowers, each bouquet more beautiful than the previous. 

Our rebellious poet did leave his heart in Paris and put the fortune he gained via performing in there in a bank to cover the expenses of a well-known Parisian flower company, with only one final request – to send a bouquet composed of the most divine flowers to his beloved muse a few times a week. The company, of course, followed his directions and regardless of the weather and the time of year, couriers brought bouquets with a single phrase: “From Mayakovsky”. Some say that in 1929 Vladimir decided to go to Tatiana, but he had problems with getting a visa. Some claim that it was Lilya Brick who influenced the decision around his visa, thereby preventing him to go abroad. However, our proud poet plainly said: “If I do not see Tatiana, I will shoot myself.” Now, remember these words.

Eventually, Vladimir ended up staying in Moscow where he met the young (married) actress Veronika Polonskaya. His rebellious heart dictated her to leave her husband and escape with him, although her young heart of hers did not allow her to grant his request…

She, however, was the last one who saw Vladimir before his tragic lethal end, the hero of millions took his life with one fatal shot, and his last lover was not there by his side – neither in his life nor in his death. Polonskaya did not ever dare to attend the funeral considering that the poet’s relatives considered her to be the culprit…

Back to Paris…

Even after his bitter end, his love was to manifest in the form of…flowers! In particular, hydrangeas, Parma violets, black tulips, tea roses of orchids, asters, and chrysanthemums. Tatiana was used to receiving the bouquets despite the short duration of their acquaintance. What leaves me speechless is the fact that his love for her was so gentle that it even seemed unreal. According to so-called reliable sources, they did not see each other again, although the sole fact of the existence of a person who loves her so much, influenced everything that was there to happen to her. Isn’t that the way in which the Moon affects all that lives on Earth by constantly rotating nearby? A never-ending cycle. 

Bless the mess and excuse the pause! 

Even on the day after he shot himself (harsh of me to put it this way), a courier brought her another bouquet, accompanied by the invariable words: “From Mayakovsky”.

Some say that great love is stronger than death, but not everyone can implement this statement in real life. Did he truly love her? If so, why didn’t he fight for her? 

A sea of flowers and not a single letter? Is there a correspondence that we don’t know of? A few letters hidden behind an old wooden wardrobe are perhaps to be found one day.

You know I don’t love anyone but you. You shouldn’t mind because someone else loved me.

A FAREWELL TO ARMS, Hemingway 

Vladimir Mayakovsky never failed to surprise. As above established, flowers were brought in the 1930s, when he died, and in the 1940s… 

Meanwhile, during the Second World War, in German-occupied Paris, our beloved beauty survived only because she used to sell these luxurious bouquets on the boulevard 

[Who would buy chrysanthemums at wartime if not a great lover?, a military daughter once asked]

If each flower represented his love for her, then for several years his love guarded her and even ended up saving her from the cold touch of death. 

Eventually, the Allied troops liberated Paris. And guess what…Tatiana continued to receive flowers. Messengers grew up before her eyes, new ones came to replace the former ones, and these new ones already knew that they were becoming part of one of the greatest love stories. 

Eventually, Tatiana married the French diplomat Bertrand de Plessix from 1929 until 1940 when he was killed by the Germans in their conquest of France. But Mayakovsky never left her life completely. The beauty of one everlasting fairytale. Later on she fled to New York with their daughter and began designing hats for Henri Bendel. Within a year, she joined Saks Fifth Avenue and became head of its custom hat salon, designing with the signature Tatiana du Plessix until its Salon Moderne closed in 1963. In 1942, the designer married Alexander Liberman – the editorial director of Conde Nast Publications. 

But until her very end, at the age of 84, flowers were coming her way…

She, herself, told her story. True as it can be…

On a beautiful day, in the late 1970s, Tatiana opened up and shared this great piece of human history, with the Soviet engineer Arkady Ryvlin who had heard their story of theirs in his youth, from his mother and always dreamed of getting to Paris. Tatiana willingly accepted him in the comfort of her home in Paris. They talked for hours about everything and nothing in the world, sitting among the flowers– a tribute to the legend for never-ending love. Maybe he was a bit out of depth to ask the grey-haired lady about the love of her youth, albeit he did end up asking her of Mayakovsky and her life after him. The muse intended to make him a cup of tea, when she got interrupted by the doorbell rang … 

A bouquet of golden Japanese chrysanthemums, like clots of the sun, was presented to Tatiana with the same old, same old “From Mayakovsky.” 

She was the legendary Tatiana Yakovleva, the love of Mayakovsky, the closest friend of Marlene Dietrich, and acquainted with Salvador Dali, the muse of Christian Dior …

If two people love each other there can be no happy end to it.

DEATH IN THE AFTERNOON, 1932, Hemingway
                                     

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