The goal of this article is the comparative analysis of the frequency of usage of the colors white, black and the seven colors of the rainbow in the poems of Russian poets from the 18th century to the present day.
Six groups of leading poets have been selected by four independent juries and include 10 poets from the 18th century, 10 – from the epoch of Pushkin, 15 – from the first half of the 20th century (the Silver Age of Russian poetry), 15 – from the second half of the 20th century, 24 – from two decades of the 21st century of whom 10 live outside Russia (overall 74 poets with 3.7 million tokens).
The new concepts of “Lexical Color Norm” and the “Black and White Coefficient” are introduced. The first describes the colors most mentioned in a given epoch and the second – the relation between the relative usage of the colors black and white. Based on representative text corpus for every poet the frequency of use of the colors is found, as well as their sum and the Lexical Color Norm and the Black and White Coefficient.
A rainbow of the Russian poetic language is found. It consists of 9 colors ordered by the most frequently used in the poems of the poets: white, black, red, blue, green, sky blue, yellow, orange and violet. It turns out that of the 74 selected poets for 44 the token White appears more often than the token Black. It is found that White increases its rank from the 18th century (the most frequent color is Red) to the 19th century (the most frequent color is Black) to become the most frequently mentioned color in the Silver Age and remain so until today. Some hypotheses are given to connect the events in the life of poets to their usage of a particular color (White for Pushkin, Red for Mayakovsky, Black for Brodsky).
Based on statistics as well as concrete examples it is shown how the Silver Age leads among the epochs in color potential and language energy and that the triad of White-Black-Red remains the most basic during the three analyzed centuries. The results allow to find “color holes” in the language of a poet (which colors are not used by the poet) or to quickly find the frequency of color usage for the leading Russian poets based on the provided tables.
Lexical Color Norm, Black and White Coefficient, Rainbow of the Russian Poetic Language, color whole in the poetic language, comparative analysis, frequency of word use in the poetic language, Russian poets and Russian language poets living abroad in the 21st century.