Poetry – and literature in general – was never just an art form in the Soviet Union. Heavily influenced by Romantic ideology, it exhibited the features of myth, of ritual, of destiny. Poets were priests and purveyors of national ideals, and their rhymed words were a serious affair, at times more important than those of the General Secretary of the Communist Party. The field of aesthetics was a true battlefield, where many were exiled or even lost their heads. The sacred utterance of poetry invested it with enormous cultural capital – a situation envied by many writers in the West – but that uncritical reverence also ossified its forms and range, and made it an easy tool for Soviet propaganda purposes, as much as for dissent.