TRAMVAI

stop 1 - before the beginning of the line


Passengers aboard the tram gained a mobile vantage point from which to survey the city. Its familiar landmarks found themselves newly framed by the tram windows and sharing the cityscape with these new beasts...

There is a particular kinship between the Bronze Horseman and the tram: as the successor to the horse-drawn konka, the tram became as if its iron replacement (or opponent) populating the phantasmagoric city streets. The city's traditional mythology meets its new incarnation in this modern form of transportation.

As Gumilev's lyrical hero moves through the distorted dimensions of the city aboard the "Lost Tram", he encounters the metallic steed:

"And right away a sweet, familiar wind
And beyond the bridge, flying toward me
The hand of the horseman in an iron glove
And the two hooves of his steed."


 


Silhouette of Falconet's statue of The Bronze Horseman

Another poet, Aleksei Lipetskii, views Falconet's statue of the Bronze Horseman: The broken syntax of the first line is suggestive of the fragmented view through the windows of the tram in motion:

"Streetcar, motion, bustle,
Iron Peter on his pedestal
Above the scenic Neva."

In this most self-reflexive of cities, whose texts display its endless fascination with its own myths, topography conspires to offer an equivalent to this self-regarding gaze: Petersburg, with its embankments facing one another across the Neva, is a city rich in viewing positions.

The novelty of the vision afforded by the tram is captured by the confession of one writer who gleans a view of the Bronze Horseman through the tram window from the opposite embankment on Vasilevsky Island:

"It's strange thing to admit, but actually I only noticed the Bronze Horseman from the streetcar on the opposite bank." (S. Spasskii)

 


Illustration to Pushkin's Bronze Horseman by Vasilii Masiutin (1922)