In her artistic philosophy Marina Tsvetaeva insists on the precedence of the word over what it stands for. “Slovo ved' bol'she veshch', chem veshch': ono samo veshch', kotoraia tol'ko znak.” The signifier comes first and the signified trails after it, for the acoustic properties of the word expand its capability beyond mere denotation to poetic creation. The proper name too, far from being a mere representation in Tsvetaeva's view, draws its bearer into a broad range of associations and creates a complex personal universe that can be discovered by means of the poet's “khozhdenie po slukhu.”
From general observations on the importance Tsvetaeva ascribed to names in a variety of works, this paper will proceed to an examination of her 1916 dedication to Aleksandr Blok, “Imia tvoe—ptitsa v ruke.” Analysis of this remarkable poem demonstrates vividly Tsvetaeva's realization of the creative potential of Blok's name. This specific example will provide the basis for a discussion of the broader implications of naming in Tsvetaeva's art.