‘The grove of golden trees has fallen silent’ by Sergei Yesenin was written in 1924 and originally published in Yesenin’s native tongue, Russian. It appears in this analysis in translated English, by Anton Yakovlev.
This means that any original rhyming pattern has been altered. Within this particular version of the poem, a reader will be able to find what is mostly full rhymes in the second and fourth lines of each stanza. There are a few moments, such as in the fourth stanza, in which the rhymes might alter depending on one’s pronunciation of the words.
While versions vary, this particular translation from Anton Yakovlev has been separated into six sets of four lines or quatrains. The lines of these quatrains are all fairly similar in length and number of syllables.
A reader should also take note of the fact that upon its publication the only title given to this piece was the first line. This was an uncommon practice, especially in the 1800s and early 1900s. It simplifies the poem’s structure and allows it to exist on its own terms without a reader placing undue importance on a title.
Summary of The grove of golden trees has fallen silent…
The poem begins with the speaker describing how a grove of trees has lost its leaves. It sits in a sad shadow of what it used to be. The cranes which have always flown through that area pass over it without any desire to land. This is something that should not be mourned. In fact, the speaker says, we are all travelers. All creatures on the planet are in a consistent pattern of movement through time.
In the next lines, he begins to refer to himself in the first person and addresses the fact that he is no exception. Time has changed him just like it has everything else. He will eventually die and his words will be swept up and burnt.
Analysis of The grove of golden trees has fallen silent…
The grove of golden trees has fallen silent,
Shorn of its gay leaves, in mute silhouette,
And so the cranes in sad file past it flying
Have no cause any more to feel regret.
In the first stanza of this piece the speaker begins with the phrase that later comes to be used as the title, “The grove of golden trees has fallen silent.” The speaker is looking upon a particular landscape. It is familiar to him, so much so he is able to note in detail the changes which have come over it. The trees are spoken as quieting down. This is a metaphor for the change of season. The life that flourished in the woods during the spring and summer is disappearing.
The speaker takes particular note of the “gay leaves” which have been “Shorn” from the trees. Yesenin utilizes the word “Shorn” to show the violence associated with this fact. To him, the change of the season is a loss. Now the forest is simply a “mute silhouette” of what it used to be. With the loss of its colors, it is closer to a shadow than the form itself.
The speaker emphasizes the coming darkness around the forest with the description of “cranes.” It is their custom, even before the changing of the season, to fly past the woods. Now that it is dark and lifeless they do not feel bad about their disregard. There is no reason for them to stop.
For whom, for what? We are all rovers, starting
Out, coming home awhile, then traveling on.
The hemp field’s dreaming of all who departed
And there’s a full moon gazing at the pond.
In the next lines, the speaker draws back from the intimate look at the woods to describe change as a feature of the world. First, he refers again to the cranes, asking his reader why one should worry over the movement of the cranes. There is no reason to fret over their choice as “We are all rovers.”
The speaker describes how everyone, human or non-human animal is meant to spend their life “traveling on.” Home might be visited for a time, but eventually one must move on. The speaker describes one particular home, which is perhaps his own, as being located around a “hemp field.” It waits, alongside a “moon gazing at the pond” for the traveler to return.
I stand alone, the bare expanses viewing,
While on the wind the cranes are borne away.
Remembrance of my merry youth pursuing,
I find nothing I would relive today.
In the third stanza, the narration changes and the speaker begins to refer to himself in the first person. He is becoming an important part of The grove of golden trees has fallen silent. The speaker has been meditating on the past and how moving or traveling was an important part of his youth. He can see the “bare expanses” that represent his present and his future. There is not the movement of his youth to be looked forward to.
He spends time remembering his “merry youth” and relates the flight of the cranes to his own past restlessness. Although this time in his life was a good one, and something he enjoys remembering, there is “nothing [he] would relive today.” He has no desire to return to the past.
I don’t regret the years that I have wasted,
I don’t regret the lilac time of life.
A rowan fire is in the orchard blazing
But none shall from its brightness warmth derive.
In the third stanza, he states that he might have wasted the previous years of his life, but that doesn’t bother him. He does not regret the fact that he did not accomplish anything in his youth. The speaker also does not worry over the “lilac time of life.” He states that he is unconcerned by the progress of time and how its most wonderful moments might have already passed.
This section concludes with the inclusion of a poignant image of the “blazing” rowan trees in the orchard. They have a brightness that exists in the past now. It is unable to give “warmth” to anyone. This is part of the reason the speaker is trying to see his past but not mourn over it. One cannot return, it gives off no warmth.
Red rowan-berry clusters cannot scorch you,
The grasses will no yellow and decline.
As leaves fall softly from a tree in autumn
So I let fall these mournful words of mine.
In the fifth stanza of The grove of golden trees has fallen silent, the image is expanded. The speaker states that the berries of the rowan tree, though bright “cannot scorch you.” Here the description takes on a second meaning. One cannot gain warmth from the “blazing” trees but one also does not have to fear getting burnt. The past cannot hurt someone in the present.
The speaker places himself in the progression of time by comparing his own words to the “leaves fall[ing] softly from a tree in autumn.” His present is as much a part of the changing world as his past.
And if time with its breezy broom should pile them
Into a heap to burn without regret…
Just say this … that the golden grove fell silent,
Shorn of its leaves, in pensive silhouette.
In the last quatrain, the speaker picks up where the last line of the fifth stanza left off. He says that there is the possibility that the “breezy broom” of time is going to collect his words and his life and “burn” them “without regret.” The speaker understands that this is a possibility, and while it is still somewhat depressing, he is trying to accept it.
In the last two lines, the speaker refers to the first stanza. He reminds himself that time impacts every life on the planet. It changes him as much as it changes the “golden grove” which seems so perfect. It will lose its leaves and become a “pensive silhouette” just like he will.