... The first vision of romantic love is the image of the unworldly Beloved. The loved one appears to the poet in a celestial, mysterious radiance: she is the "Beautiful Lady," the "Tsarevna-Bride," the "Mysterious Maiden of the Sunset," the "Mistress of the Universe," the "Majestic Eternal Wife." The poet calls her (always with capital letters) "Radiant," "Luminous," "Golden-Haired," "Unattainable," "Holy." He is the knightly troubadour who is bent in submissive expectation before the image of the Madonna, guarding the "covenant of serving the Unattainable One": The fickle shades of day quicken away.
The church bell’s call is sharp and clear.
The church steps are illuminated bright,
Their stone alive-awaiting your footfall.
You'll pass through here, touch the cold stone
Attired in the awful sacredness of ages,
And, perhaps, you'll let fall a single spring flower
Here, in these shadows, by the icons grave &
In his early verses Blok is the disciple of Vladimir Solov, the poet of the "eternal feminine," of the religious principle of love. The "Verses about the Beautiful Lady" are filled with esoteric expectation of the actual appearance of the eternal feminine, of the descent of divine love. The eschatological yearnings (for example, of Andrej Belyj, Merezhkovskij, and others) that at the turn of the century had spurred the resurgence of the mystical strain in Russian poetry take on here the aspect of some new and intensely personal revelation through love: All visions are so fleeting-
Shall I believe in them?
But perhaps I am loved,
Though accidental, poor, mortal,
By the Mistress of the Universe,
By Beauty unutterable.
These mystical presentiments of the manifestation of the divine in love ("theophany") ally Blok's verse not only with the lyrical poetry of Vladimir Solov, but-through Solov and perhaps also directly-with "Hymns to the Night" of the German romantic poet Novalis and with Dante's La Vita Nuova. But this faith in the reality of the vision that has appeared to the poet is accompanied in Blok by a discordant note of doubt and fear. We find this expression of an all too human weakness, of powerlessness before a wondrous gift, in the opening poem of the first collection. The possibility of betraying the exalted Beloved, indeed, the entire further development of the poet is prefigured thus: I have forebodings of Thee. ...