BORIS PASTERNAK: STAR OF NATIVITY
“Star of the Nativity” is one of six gospel poems in the longer lyric sequence that Pasternak published as the last chapter of Doctor Zhivago. Five of the six poems revolve around the Passion. “Star of the Nativity”is the one exception. Its aestheticreminds me of a Roublev icon–painting as annunciation, as Pavel Florensky says – a likeness for an invisible, spiritual energy forwhich it is the leading wave. (Florensky is thinking by analogy of Jesus through whom God, although imageless, approaches in our image so that we through visible likeness can receive Him.) Perhaps all the Zhivago poems are annunciations in that sense. They were written in Stalin’s day, when history was a mask for idol worship. In response Pasternak offers “midnight opening”, “shy / as a candle in a / sentry’s window” – “a sign of arson” perhaps, but “centring / a startled universe”.