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This year we celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Alexander Pushkin Russias greatest poet Pushkin was born in Moscow on June 6 1799 His poetry has become part of the Russian language and the spiritual life of the Russian people and holds a special place in every Russian heart Alexander Pushkin created the language of modern Russian literature He freed Russian writing from the constraints of tradition and set new literary standards for novelists and poets His preference for subjects from history and folklore brought fresh vitality to Russian literature and created lyrics of unsurpassed beauty Pushkins father came of an old boyar family his mother was the grand-daughter of Abram Hannibal who was an Abyssinian princeling bought as a slave at Constantinople and adopted by Peter the Great whose comrade in arms he became During early childhood Pushkin spent summers at his grandmothers estate near Moscow He talked to the peasants and spent hours alone living in the dream world of a precocious imaginative child He read widely in his fathers library and gained stimulus from the literary guests who came to the house In 1811 Pushkin entered the newly founded Imperial Lyceum at Tsarskoye Selo While at the Lyceum he began his first completed major work the romantic poem Ruslan and Ludmila 1820 making use of Russian folklore In his political verses and epigrams widely circulated in manuscript he made himself the spokesman for the ideas and aspirations of those who were to take part in the Decembrist rising of 1825 the unsuccessful culmination of a Russian revolutionary movement in its earliest stage For these political poems Pushkin was banished from St Petersburg in May 1820 and travelled in the northern Caucasus and later to the Crimea The impressions he gained provided material for his romantic narrative poems The Prisoner of the Caucasus The Robber Brothers and The Fountain of Bakhchisaray Pushkin was hailed as the leading Russian poet of the
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