“The body of the poet, decorated with flowers, was visible to everyone”

The procession moved down Ofitserskaya and Alekseevskaya, past Litovsky castle (the prison destroyed in the post–revolutionary chaos), the Mariinsky Theater, and towards the Nikolaevsky Bridge, one of the important urban sites of Bely’s Petersburg. Once over the Nikolaevsky Bridge, the procession moved along the embankment of the Neva until it reached the Sixteenth Line, and moved along the deserted streets of the Vasilievsky Island towards the Smolensk cemetery. Blok’s body was carried in an open coffin, while the lid was carried separately: “The coffin was carried in a straight and comradely manner, and the body of the poet, decorated with flowers, was visible to everyone.” The pallbearers—Bely, Pyast, Vladimir Gippius, Evgeny Ivanov, Zamyatin and Zorgenfrey—carried the coffin the entire six kilometers to the cemetery, and Olga Forsh writes that Blok’s profile, visible from the open coffin, was chiseled into the sky, and likens the procession to a knight being carried on the shields of his comrades. As the procession moved along, passers–by joined the crowd. The empty horse–drawn carriage trailed behind. The poet’s wife, Lyubov Dmitrievna, and his former lover, the actress Lyubov Alexandrovna Delmas, supported Blok’s mother, Alexandra Andreevna Petukh. Photographers followed the procession, “unceremoniously dealing with the crowd and giving some kind of impertinent orders.”

[See also: Death and Narrative]

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