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Russia's Favorite Poets? Russia's Amazing Search Engine Breaks it Down (Yandex)

  • Fascinating analysis, breaking down the data in every way
  • Excellent interactive charts
  • Pushkin the favorite by far, then Lermontov, Esenin, and Nekrasov
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This post first appeared on Russia Insider

Russian poetry lovers will love this one.  Russia takes poetry very seriously.  What other country would make a study like this?  For interactivity of the charts, head over to the original on Yandex's website (in Russian only).

Yandex is a remarkable company in many ways.  It is the only global search engine to provide serious competition to Google, and is sometimes referred to as the Google-killer.  In Russia is is far more popular than Google.

<figcaption>To this day Alexander Pushkin remains the 'Sun of Russian Poetry'</figcaption>
To this day Alexander Pushkin remains the 'Sun of Russian Poetry'

Translated for Russia Insider by Sonja Kotlica.

What kind of online searches for poetry are made online, according to the Yandex search engine data for June of 2015? 

Many people are looking for titles and authors of various poems, or just lines in them. There are comparatively few searches on poetry - from three hundred thousand to one million a week.

However, this is quite enough to see what works are searched for, which poets are well known, and what periods and styles are most popular among readers.

This chart shows which time periods got the most search requests

We analyzed searches by Yandex users from April 2014 to March 2015 - about 37 million searches using the title of a poem or a line in a poem.  During the 12 month time frame of our study, people searched for approximately 1,300 authors – out of 1,600 which our search “PoetryLover” recognizes. 

Seven percent of searches were for either foreign language poetry or religious texts, such as the Bible or the Koran, that were not considered in the study .

This shows which poets are most popular. If you hover over the poet, it breaks down which of his poems are most popular. (This is just a screenshot - go to the link above for interactivity)
During the year,  Yandex users made 34 million searches on the poetry of 728 Russian authors.  56 poets were searched for about 100,000 times. (That amounted to more than 85 percent of all searches on poetry.)   At least 160 authors had about 10,000 searches for each one performed. These poets lived and worked during the last three hundred years – since the beginning of the XVIII century, such as Mikhail Lomonosov, until today.   

Of the popular Russian poets, 32 percent of searches were dedicated to the Golden Age of Russian poetry.  Most Yandex users are searching, of course, for Pushkin's poetry (18 percent of all searches about poetry).

This shows which poems are most popular. Hovering ove the poem gives you additional info. (This is just a screenshot - go to the link above for interactivity)

The interest in the poets of the Silver Age was slightly lower, with 26 percent of searches. Here the leaders are Sergei Yesenin (7%) and Aleksandr Blok (3%).  Among the poetic movements of the Silver Age, the most popular was Imagism, largely because of the searches for the poetry of Sergei Esenin.

Among all poetic movements, the most popular were Symbolism and Futurism – among the top authors, whose poetry was searched for more than 100,000 times, were four representatives of each of these poetic movements.   

Among the poets born in the early XX century, most often searched were the poets of the military lyricism (Konstantin Simonov, Tvardovsky), while among the poets born in the 20-30s are poets who were also singers and songwriters (Vladimir Vysotsky, Yuri Vizbor, Okudzhava).

The best-known children's poet, other than Pushkin, was Samuil Marshak who ranks 11th in the overall ranking of the poets. He is followed by Korney Chukovsky and Sergei Mikhalkov.   Among all children's poets, popular among Yandex users, the one most recently born was Eduard Uspensky—he was born in 1937. The most famous poems have been written by Marina Tsvetaeva – during the year 1260 of her poems were searched.

Besides Tsvetaeva, the most popular poems have been written by Anna Akhmatova (858), and by Pushkin (777). Among the most popular poets is also an author, whose only poem searched for is Griboyedov ("Woe from Wit"). 

Yandex users searched for almost 50,000 lines in poems over the course of our study.  Nearly a quarter of them (11,000) were written by authors belonging to the top 50 most popular. Half of all requests were for 230 works, and a quarter for 50 works. Each of these works was searched for at least 90,000 and up to several hundred thousand times.

The majority of the most famous poems belong to the Golden Age of Russian poetry, 19 of them were written by Aleksandr Pushkin, and 10 by Mikhail Lermontov. The most popular poems of the Silver Age are “Stranger and Russia” by Aleksandr Blok and “Letter To A Woman” by Sergei Yesenin.  

How are searches formulated?  Most often, poems are searched by their titles or the name of their authors. But there are some verses, which are known to people even more than the title of the poem or the name of its author.

The most popular poem in Russian poetry is ‘Eugene Onegin’, searched for almost one million times.  In searching it,  Yandex users used 45,000 various formulations in their searches, including a variety of passages and quotes.

The second most searched work, “The Tale of Tsar Saltan” was searched for more than half a million times. In third place is “Woe From Wit” by Griboyedov--searched three times less often than “Eugene Onegin” with 20,000 different formulations.

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