Nikolai Gumilev, the son of a naval surgeon, was educated at the Tsarskoye Selo Lyceum. His first book of poetry, The Path of the Conquistadores was published in 1905. This was followed by Romantic Flowers (1908) and Pearls (1910).
In 1911 Gumilev joined with Sergey Gorodetsky and Osip Mandelstam to form the Guild of Poets. Formed as a reaction to the Symbolist movement, the Acmeists, as they became known, called for a return to the use of clear, precise and concrete imagery.
Gumilev was interested in the culture of Africa and Asia and in 1911 visited Abyssinia where he collected folk songs. On his return he published Foreign Sky (1912). His friend, Victor Serge pointed out: "Nikolai Gumilev was rather lean and singularly ugly: his face too long, heavy lips and nose, conical forehead, weird eyes, bluish-green and over-large, like a fish or Oriental idol - and indeed, he was very fond of the priestly statues of Assyria, which everyone came to think he resembled."
On the outbreak of the First World War he joined the Russian Army and while serving as an officer on the Eastern Front was twice decorated for bravery. He described some of his experiences in Notes of a Cavalryman (1916). A supporter of the Provisional Government Gumilev was sent by Alexander Kerensky to Paris where he served as a special commissar in France.
Gumilev returned to Russia in 1918 and worked as a creative writing teacher in Petrograd. The following year he was recruited by Maxim Gorky to work with him on his World Literature project. It was the task of Gumilev, Yevgeni Zamyatin, Alexander Blok, Nikolai Gumilev, and other members of the editorial board to select, translate and publish non-Russian literary works. Each volume was to be annotated, illustrated, and supplied with an introductory essay.
A strong opponent of the Bolshevik government, Gumilev supported the Kronstadt Uprising in March, 1921. After the defeat of the Kronstadt sailors in March, 1917, he was arrested and charged with being involved in an anti-government conspiracy. Nikolai Gumilev was executed on 24th August, 1921.
Nikolai Gumilev was rather lean and singularly ugly: his face too long, heavy lips and nose, conical forehead, weird eyes, bluish-green and over-large, like a fish or Oriental idol - and indeed, he was very fond of the priestly statues of Assyria, which everyone came to think he resembled.
One comrade travelled to Moscow to ask Dzerhinsky a question: "Were we entitled to shoot one of Russia's two or three poets of the first order? Dzerhinsky answered, "Are we entitled to make an exception of a poet and still shoot the others?"
It was dawn, at the edge of a forest, when Gumilev fell, his cap pulled down over his eyes, a cigarette hanging from his lips, showing the same calm he had expressed in one of the poems he brought back from Ethiopia: "And fearless I shall appear before the Lord God." That, at least, is the tale as it was told to me.
Over and over again, with mingled The Worker, where he describe a gentle, grey-eyed man who, before going to bed, finishes making "the bullet that is going to kill me".