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Afanasyeva N.A. METAPHORIC PARAGONS IN THE MYTHOLOGICAL AND POETIC CONSCIOUSNESS (ILLISTRATED BY PARAGONS WITH THE STAR TOKEN) / N.A. Afanasyeva // Russian Linguistic Bulletin. — 2020. — № 4 (24). — С. 59—62. — URL: (дата обращения: 26.10.2021. ).
Afanasyeva N.A. METAPHORIC PARAGONS IN THE MYTHOLOGICAL AND POETIC CONSCIOUSNESS (ILLISTRATED BY PARAGONS WITH THE STAR TOKEN) / N.A. Afanasyeva // Russian Linguistic Bulletin. — 2020. — № 4 (24). — С. 59—62.


ORCIDАфанасьева Н.А.1
1 , Санкт-Петербургский государственный университет, Санкт-Петербург, Россия
Статья посвящена сопоставлению образных параллелей с лексемой звезда в мифологии (по трехтомнику А. Н. Афанасьева «Поэтические воззрения славян на природу») и в русской лирике XVIII–XXI вв. Привлекаются как тексты известных поэтов, так и тех авторов, чье творчество формирует литературный процесс. В работе делается вывод об общих чертах мифологического и поэтического сознания, поскольку все названные в труде А. Н. Афанасьева параллели (звезда / звезды – огонь, глаза, книга, одеяние, драгоценные камни, серебро, горох, пчелы, стада, золотушная сыпь и т.д.) представлены в русской поэзии в основном без изменений. Общность представлений народа в разные исторические эпохи свидетельствует о единой основе этих двух видов сознания, являющейся по своему характеру преимущественно поэтической.
Ключевые слова: мифологическое и поэтическое сознание, русская поэзия XVIII–XXI вв.
Страницы: 59 - 62

ORCIDAfanasyeva N.A.1
1 , Saint Petersburg State University, Saint Petersburg, Russia
This article presents the comparison of metaphoric paragon with the star token in mythology (based on the three-volume edition by A. N. Afanasyev ‘The Poetic Outlook on Nature by the Slavs’) and in Russian lyric poetry of the XVIII-XXI centuries. Both texts of famous poets and those authors whose work forms the literary process are involved. There has been made a conclusion about the general features of mythological and poetic consciousness in this article, since all the paragons listed in the work of A. N. Afanasyev (star/stars-fire, eyes, book, clothing, precious stones, silver, peas, bees, flocks, scrofulous rash, etc.) are presented mostly unchanged in Russian poetry. A shared outlook and ideas of different historical epochs testifies to the common basis of these two types of consciousness, which is mainly poetic in its nature.
Keywords: mythological and poetic consciousness, Russian poetry of the XVIII-XXI centuries.
Pages: 59 - 62
Почта авторов / Author Email: nat31371[at], n.a.afanaseva[at]


 It is generally recognized that language and human consciousness are interrelated in the modern linguistics: consciousness forms a picture of the world, and reflects genesis and the world through such picture and the language. Researchers single out language perceptive [10], mythological [8], artistic [9], and poetic [6], [3], [2].

The connection between the linguistic, mythological and poetic was discussed by researchers of the XIX century. According to A. N. Afanasyev, a primitive man ‘denoted his impressions made on him by objects and phenomena of nature’ in the roots and basic sounds of words, ‘the concept that arose was plastically outlined by the word as a true and apt epithet’ [1, P.4]. From generation to generation, the poetic meaning of the metaphorical word was forgotten, lost, and led to the inevitable process of mythical seductions, ‘which entangled the human mind all the more tightly because they affected it with the irresistible beliefs of a very own word.’ The forgotten metaphorical likeness was already perceived as a fact and served as the reason for the creation of mythical tales [1, P. 6]. Although the concept of A. N. Afanasyev was criticized by his contemporaries, and despite the fact that representatives of the Soviet school were also critical of it, and researchers also noted that in some cases A. N. Afanasyev had turned to unreliable sources, they all still recognized the fundamental nature of Afanasyev’s work and the importance of its empirical material. In 2005, A. F. Zhuravlev [4] published a studies of the linguistic commentary of the three-volume work of A. N. Afanasyev from the standpoint of modern linguistics, which makes the appeal to the materials in ‘The Poetic Outlook on Nature by the Slavs’ possible and relevant today. Commenting on the name with which the sky calls the stars and the sun according to A. N. Afanasyev, A. [4] Zhuravlev considers this to be an example of ‘so-called kenning’ (complicating the replacement of a name with two other conjugated names), a technique common to skald poetics. The origins of this phenomenon are sought in ‘Indo-European antiquity’. It is directly related to the problem of a myth’s origin [4, P.117-118].

Without entering into a discussion of the origin of a myth, let us turn to the comparison of ideas that are significant for the mythological and poetic consciousness.

In this work, poetic consciousness, which includes both consciousness and the unconscious, is meant by mental processes, thinking, a special kind of (poetic) consciousness of reality, the surrounding world and the genesis, within which the surrounding reality, poetic (aesthetic, metaphoric, metaphorical, symbolic, etc.) consciousness of the world order, and genesis are poetized. Poetic consciousness is not the prerogative of only a poet or a writer, but corresponds to the aesthetic consciousness of the world of any individual, which allows to identify and explore the common in the poetic consciousness of a particular human community, and humanity in general. Linguistics study the verbal reflection of poetic consciousness in language and text.

The comparison of metaphoric paragons in Slavic mythology and images in Russian poetry of all ages seems relevant, since it allows to identify paragons that are fundamental in all historical eras and significant for the consciousness of both the ancient Slavs and modern Russians.

In connection with the above, the purpose of this study is to trace the existence of the metaphoric paragons listed in the three-volume edition ‘The Poetic Outlook on Nature by the Slavs’ by A. N. Afanasyev with the word star in Slavic mythology: riddles, proverbs, charms, ritual and spiritual songs, fairy tales, and in Russian poetry of the XVIII-XXI centuries. This article is based not only on the texts of the most prominent poets whose names make up the history of Russian poetry, but also on the works of minor poets, as well as poets whose work forms the literary process, since this approach helps to identify the characteristic features of Russian poetic consciousness.


 In this article Russian national corpus data is used to compare the mythological representations of the stars of the ancient Slavs and neighboring peoples based on the three-volume edition ‘The Poetic Outlook on Nature by the Slavs’ by A. N. Afanasyev with figures of Russian poetry of the new time.

It notes that in ancient times comparing the sun, the moon, night lights, and dawn to fire, candles, sparks, etc. was a common occurrence [1, vol. 1, P. 175-176]. This figure is also developed by poetry: ‘The stars are eternal souls. The stars lit the candles. Here goes deafer and deafer the dark murmur of the earth!’ (K. D. Balmont, 1900); ‘The stars are burning, burning, burning, just like candles!’ (S. A. Klychkov, 1929). This paragon is indeed very important in the Russian language, since verbs are used in their direct meaning in conjunction with the ‘star’ token: the star is burning, lit up, flickered out, etc.

The star-eye paragon was also significant in the mythological consciousness of ancient people. A. N. Afanasyev writes ‘about Argus the thousand-eyed, vigilant night guard’, about ‘the eyes of the sky’ [1, vol. 1, P. 10]. The star-eye paragon is a regular feature in Russian poetry: ‘The stars do not see us, winking with Millions of iridescent eyes…’ (L. N. Trefolev, 1894); ‘If I were the sky, I would forever look at you with many eyes’ (B. A. Sadovskoy, 1903). Of course, comparing stars with eyes is more common for the language of poetry, which also goes back to popular ideas. A. N. Afanasyev notes that, according to the charms registered by the author, the task of creating human eyes was assigned to the stars [1, vol. 1, P. 164].

The paragon of the guardian star is attributed to the idea of the sky looking at human beings from above: ‘The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars are sharp-sighted guardians of the sky, from whom nothing can hide; the heroes of folk tales are usually torn to them for advice in all difficult life situations’, says A. N. Afanasyev [1, vol. 1, P. 159]. We observe the same ideas in Russian poetry: ‘A star rises stealthily through a cloud and points its watchful eye at us’ (M.A. Kuzmin, 1910); ‘Don’t you cry, my wife, it is all my fault, I am still alive under the guarding star’ (O. A. Yuriev, 2012).

Comparing a star to a window is very close to the above-mentioned concept: ‘the stars and the moon bring an idea of heavenly windows to mind.’ According to popular belief, the sky is the house of God, and the stars are the windows that angels look out of’ [1, vol. 1, P. 161]. The sky is not only a house as it says in poetry, but also a chamber and a temple, but the star-window paragon could not be traced. If the sky is the heavenly temple then the stars are candles or lamps here: ‘Of the wondrous host of golden stars, of the innumerable lamps of the universal chamber’ (V. K. Kuchelbecker); ‘Silent night, the myriads of stars are shining, the blue is sparkling bright; in praise of God the eternal temple lit its lamps’ (A. A. Grigoriev).

A later mythological representation can be considered the idea of the starry sky as a book or a scroll [1, vol. 1, P. 52], an idea that can also be found in poetry: ‘Above the mountain, in a rosy cloud the Lord reclines and reads a book; that book is written by the Stars, the milky way is only one of its leaves!’ (Maxim Gorky); ‘Pray to the one whose bright lot you guessed from the book of stars’ (S. M. Solovyov). An infant prodigy Nika Turbina (born in 1974) writes the her ‘Draft’, published in the first book of the same name in 1984, which also contains this paragon: ‘My life is a draft, on which all the letters are constellations… all the rainy days are counted in advance. My life is a draft.’ [7].

‘In folk lore, the soul is just as much compared to a star as to a flame; and death is likened to a falling star, which, being lost in the air, seems to be extinguished. <…> Each person has received his own star in the sky, with the fall of which his existence ceases’ [1, vol. 3, P. 206]. ‘A white corpse in the field; do vanish, my star!’ (S. M. Gorodetsky, 1906). ‘My execution won’t be amusing. Well, in the meantime, do shine, my star, do shine!’ (A. P. Mezhirov, 1993).

The stars were usually compared to flocks in Russian folk riddles, and to sheep in one Serbian song [1, vol. 1, PP. 691-692]. This comparison is also found in Russian poetry: ‘The color of the sky and moon, the herds of shining stars…’ (Maxim Gorky); ‘I saw a lot of stars: not flocks, but whole lot of herds’ (L. N. Martynov, 1970). The stars were likened to horses and a cart (vol. 1, P. 608): ‘Awake you see the passion-bearer leading his starry cavalry from the Northern waters to the West’ (N. A. Klyuyev, 1915); ‘Without declining, seven stars are floating like a diamond chariot, like a Northern emblem’ (B. A. Narzissov, 1958). 

The full moon in ancient times was identified with bread. The author notes that in Russia and in Germany there was a belief that God crumbles the old moon into the stars [1, vol. 1, P. 190]. Here is an example from poetry: ‘The crumbs of scanty stars are swept away from the divine table with a broom.’ (V. G. Shershenevich, 1915). The stars often appear as peas in folk riddles. In poetry: ‘How much I loved to wander along the same roads to see the large peas of the stars as the evening comes’ (N.S. Gumilev).

A. N. Afanasyev writes that in mythological representations of the sun, the moon, and the stars were related. The same can be observed in the lyrics of the XVIII–XXI centuries: ‘A maiden was arguing with the sun: I am more beautiful than you, your brother, the bright moon,and than your sister, the star’ (A. H. Vostokov, 1824); ‘Little stars in the gloom are God’s children on earth’ (V. V. Nabokov, 1921); ‘You go away, as the stars, these lost children of dawn, go up into the sky.’ (V. A. Sosnora, 1966).

The starry sky reminded the ancient people of the beautiful women’s clothes or the tail of a peacock [1, vol. 1, P. 157]. This image was also embodied in poetry: ‘In the clothing of constellations, where every star lives for thousand years, and is eternally young, oh lovely night, do live forever’ (K. D. Balmont); ‘Humanity! Let us drown the feud in sunlight! In the cloak of imaginary stars, I will wait for the children of bold plans.’ (V. V. Khlebnikov).

In popular beliefs, stars and other luminaries were identified with gold, silver, precious stones, as well as coins, ‘semi-precious stones’ [1, vol.1, P. 157] and nails [1, vol. 1, P. 143]. The juxtaposition of stars with diamonds is also common for the language of poetry: ‘These stars that are high, shining bright in the poet’s eye’ (P.A. Fedotov, 1850); The two-horned crescent rose between the stars on the night sky, the two-horned crescent of Astarte, surrounded by diamonds of stars’ (B. A. Narzissov, 1969); ‘Stars are like pebbles, yakhonts and diamonds; Varenka-Varvarushka fell in love with us’ (A. B. Marienhof, 1938). In the context of precious metals, the stars in Russian poetry are usually associated with silver: ‘The night pours me silver in stars’ (V. G. Benediktov, 1857); ‘The silver of a blue star sparkles in a black window’ (O. A. Okhapkin, 1991). There is a comparison of stars and coins: ‘The moon rolled down like a copper coin, the late fell down like a dime…’ (A. A. Zharov, 1925); ‘I dropped a dime in the water, a star sinks near the shore’ (G. S. Semenov, 1964), as well as stars with nails: ‘These stars are like nails, like knocks over my wooden end’ (S.V. Petrov, 1934).

According to A. N. Afanasyev, scrofulous rash was identified with the stars in popular charms. People asked for ‘the rash to disappear from the body the same way as the heavenly stars disappear in the morning’ [1, vol. 1, P. 205]. However, there is a reverse stars-rash comparison in poetry: ‘Barely visible rash of twinkling stars’ (M.A. Svetlov, 1921); ‘Signifying the beauty of nature, the stars broke out like a rash’ (B. P. Kornilov, 1930).

A. N. Afanasyev also noted the comparison of stars with bees and bee swarm [1, vol. 1, P. 385]. In poetry: ‘Shooting stars like sparkling bees flew with ease’ (V. P. Kataev, 1918); ‘A scattering of stars silvers the sky, resembling swarm of bees fly’ (M.A. Kuzmin, 1911).

‘Both the elves and the stars in the sky sing and dance in a ring’ [1, vol. 1, P. 385], says A. N. Afanasyev. In Russian poetry: ‘Will shine bright the stars’ fairy circle’ (A. A. Grigoriev, 1846).

As can be observed from the material described, all the ideas of the ancient mythological consciousness of the Slavs were reflected in Russian poetry, and the ideas and their forms correspond often. They are realized by the reverse metaphor, however, in a number of cases: not scrofulous rash looks like stars, rather stars look like rash; or there is a further development of the poetic figure, for example, where stars are not windows in the tower, but lamps in the temple.

Fundamental work of A. N. Afanasyev is a huge material in terms of coverage, but in Russian poetry [see 5] there are other numerous groups of images that are not given in the work of A. N. Afanasyev. In this regard, I had to turn to other folklore sources. For example, there are the following paragons not described by A. N. Afanasyev, but presented in Russian poetry: ‘On a black handkerchief millet is spilled, so the sky is all strewn with golden grain; white flowers bloom in the evening sky and wither in the morning Out of the sky and put of the river flew the bubbles to go up in the sky, sparkling with silver’, ‘A carpet scattered on all sides, and it is above anyone’s strength, as neither clerks, nor silversmiths or priests can roll it up’.

Let’s compare the above paragons with other metaphoric paragons of Russian poetry in the Dictionary of the Language of Poetry [5]. Although the authors of the dictionary did not set themselves the task to include all cases of metaphoric use with the word ‘star’ in Russian poetry in the articles, however, it seems that the dictionary material reflects the correlation of ancient nuclear paragons of Russian mythological and poetic consciousness and individual author’s comparisons and metaphors with the word star.

The dictionary article ‘About A Star’ contains a little more than 700 poetic contexts of metaphoric word usage. Some of the contexts cannot be attributed to metaphoric paragons. For example, they will not include the group ‘names of the set’: a million, myriads of stars, etc., and we will not consider metaphoric paragons with the names of constellations and the milky way, since they were not considered in this study. As a result of counting out of 660 poetic contexts of new Russian poetry, 406 (61%) go back to the metaphoric paragons named in the three-volume edition of A. N. Afanasyev or found in other folklore texts, which indicates the correlation between the individual author’s metaphor and the metaphor that is based on ancient roots, which is nuclear for the Russian Slavic poetic consciousness.


 The conducted research allows us to conclude that all the named A. N. Afanasyev ancient paragons with the word star are presented in Russian lyrics almost unchanged. The commonality of representations of the mythological and poetic consciousness of the people in its historical development seems to indicate a common basis for these two types of consciousness, mainly poetic in nature. These representations, which are verbalized in comparison, metaphor, and symbol, form the core of the Russian poetic picture of the world. The ratio of ancient (nuclear) and individual author’s metaphoric paragons in Russian lyrics based on the materials of the Dictionary of the Language of Poetry (the article ‘About A Star’ is 61% and 39%, respectively. Data on the share of individual and traditional (ancient or core) in the Russian poetic consciousness will be updated as the actual material accumulates.

Список литературы / References:
  1. Афанасьев А. Н. Поэтические воззрения славян на природу: в 3 т. / А. Н. Афанасьев. М., 1865–1869.
  2. Гришанина Е. Б. Контекстуальная синонимия и психосемантика поэтического сознания: измерение ассоциаций / Е. Б. Гришанина // Вопросы филологии. 2005. – № 3 – С. 111-116.
  3. Дзуцева Н. В. Русская поэзия 1910-1920-х годов в аспекте постсимволизма: Проблемы эстетики и поэтики : автореф. дис. … д-ра филол. наук / Дзуцева Н. В. Иваново, – 1999. – 19 с.
  4. Журавлев А. Ф. Язык и миф. Лингвистический комментарий к труду А.Н. Афанасьева «Поэтические воззрения славян на природу» / А. Ф. Журавлев. М.: Индрик, 2005. – 1004 с.
  5. Иванова Н. Н. Словарь языка поэзии / Н. Н. Иванова, О. Е. Иванова. М. : Азбуковник, 2015. – 1059 с.
  6. Куманок О. В. Идиоматика поэзии акмеистов: когнитивно-дискурсивный аспект : автореф. дис. … канд. филол. наук / Куманок О. В. Белгород, 2008. – 19 с.
  7. Ника Турбина [Электронный ресурс]. – URL: (дата обращения: 4.11.2020).
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  9. Поцепня Д. М. Образ мира в слове писателя / Д. М. Поцепня. СПб. : Изд-во Санкт-Петербург. ун-та, 1997. – 264 с.
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Список литературы на английском / References in English:
  1. Afanasyev A. N. Poeticheskiye vozzreniya slavyan na prirodu [The Poetic Outlook on Nature by the Slavs: in 3 volumes] / A. N. Afanasyev. M., 1865-1869. [in Russian]
  2. Grishanina E. B. Kontekstualnaya sinonimiya i psikhosemantika poeticheskogo soznaniya: izmereniye assotsiatsiy [Contextual Synonymy and Psychosemantics of Poetic Consciousness: Measurement of Associations]. B. Grishanina // Voprosy filologii [Questions of Philology]. 2005. - No. 3 - pp. 111-116. [in Russian]
  3. Dzutseva N. V. Russkaya poeziya 1910-1920-yh godov v aspekte postsimvolizma: Problemy estetiki i poetiki [Russian Poetry of the 1910s and 1920s in the Aspect of Post-Symbolism: Matters of Aesthetics and Poetics]: avtoref. dis. … dok. filol. nauk [Author’s Abstract. ... D. Litt.] / N. V. Dzutseva, Ivanovo, - 1999. - 19 p. [in Russian]
  4. Zhuravlev A. Yazyk i mif. Lingvisticheskiy kommentariy k trudu A.N. Afanasyeva ‘Poeticheskiye vozzreniya slavyan na prirodu’ [Language and Myth. Linguistic commentary on the Work of A. N. Afanasyev ‘‘The Poetic Outlook on Nature by the Slavs’’] / A. F. Zhuravlev. Moscow: Indrik, 2005. - 1004 p. [in Russian]
  5. Ivanova N. N.; Ivanova, O. E. Slovar yazyka poezii [Dictionary of the Language of Poetry] / N. N. Ivanova, O. E. Ivanova. Moscow: Azbukovnik, 2015. - 1059 p. [in Russian]
  6. Kumanok O. V. Idiomatika poezii akmeistov: kognitivno-diskursivnyy aspekt [Idiomatics of Acmeist Poetry: Cognitive-Discursive Aspect]: avtoref. dis. … kand. filol. nauk [Author’s Abstract. ... Cand. Sc.] / O. V. Kumanok. Belgorod, 2008. - 19 p. [in Russian]
  7. Nika Turbina [Electronic resource]. – URL: (accessed: 4.11.2020). [in Russian]
  8. Osnovy dukhovnoy kul’tury (entsiklopedicheskiy slovar’ pedagoga) [Fundamentals of Spiritual Culture (Encyclopedic Dictionary)] [Electronic resource] / sost. V. S. Bezrukova. [compiled by V. S. Bezrukova]. Yekaterinburg. 2000. - 959 p. - URL:Мифологическое_сознание (accessed: 31.07.2020). [in Russian]
  9. Potsepnya D. M. Obraz mira v slove pisatelya [The Figure of the World in the Word of the Writer] / D. M. Potsepnya. Saint Petersburg: Izdatelstvo Sankt-Peterburg [Saint Petersburg Publishing House]. UN-TA, 1997. - 264 p. [in Russian]
  10. Ushakova T. N. Yazykovoye soznaniye i printsipy yego issledovaniya [Language Consciousness and Principles of the Research] [Electronic resource] / T. N. Ushakova // Yazykovoye soznaniye i obraz mira [Language Consciousness and Figure of the World]. Moskva [Moscow], 2000. - URL: (accessed: 31.07.2020). [in Russian]

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