Yevgeny Abramovich Baratynsky was born in 1801 on the family property in the Tambov region of central Russia. After his father's death in 1810, he was given a place at the School of Pages, an elite boarding school in St Petersburg.
His school days, in which he discovered a love for literature and the desire to be a poet, were cut short by an event that changed the course of his life. He and a classmate stole a substantial sum of money from another classmate's father; they were immediately found out, disgraced and expelled from the school. A career as an officer was now closed to Baratynsky, especially in view of the personal disfavour of the tsar. Even so, after a period of suicidal depression, he decided to attempt to rehabilitate himself by enlisting as a private soldier.
In May 1825, after nine years of disgrace, and just a few months before the ill-fated December uprising against the newly crowned tsar Nicholas I, Baratynsky was finally pardoned and promoted to officer rank. His first volume of poetry was published in 1827, followed by a much larger collection in 1835. Then in 1842 came Half-Light, Baratynsky's most important work, a gathering of poems written since 1834.
Baratynsky died in Italy on 11 July, 1844.