Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Poetry of Akhmatova

Below are a few snippets from Anna Akhmatova'a collected works. Akhmatova was one of the greatest Russian poets of the twentieth century. Her poetry is lyrical, intensely personal, and devoted, above all, to theme of love.

I love you like forty fond sisters.

Never mind that you are insolent and evil,
Never mind that you love others.
Before me is the golden lectern,
And beside me is the gray-eyed bridegroom.

But save my letters
So that our descendants can decide,
So that you, courageous and wide,
Will be seen by them with greater clarity.
Perhaps we may leave some gaps
In your glorious biography?
Too sweet is earthly drink,
Too tight the nets of love.
Sometime let the children read
My name in their lesson book,
And on learning the sad story,
Let them smile slyly...
Since you've given me neither love nor peace,
Grant me bitter glory.

He spoke of the summer, and he also said
That for a woman to be a poet was--absurd.

If you are placed at my feet,
Sweetheart, just lie there.

The boy said to me: "How this hurts!"
And I pitied the boy so...
Just a short time ago he was content
And had only heard about sorrow.
But now he knows everything, the same
As you who are older and wise.
It seems as if the pupils of his dazzled eyes
Have contracted and dimmed.

I thought: it's impossible to love a loose woman
As if she were a bride.

When the cold came,
You trailed me impassively,
Always and everywhere,
As if amassing the tokens
Of my indifference. Forgive me!

I've learned to live simply, wisely,
To look at the sky and pray to God,
And to take long walks before evening
To wear out this useless anxiety.

The quiet is cut, occasionally,
By the cry of a stork landing on the roof.
And if you were to knock at my door,
It seems to me I wouldn't even hear.

My silent house is empty and unfriendly,
Through one window it peers at the woods.
In it someone was cut from a noose
And afterwards the body was cursed.
Whether he was melancholy or secretly happy,
There remains only death--the great victory.
On the worn, red plush of the armchairs
His shadow flickers occasionally.

Insomnia, you are with me again, again!
I recognize your fixed countenance.
What is it, my outlaw, what is it, my pretty one,
Do I sing so badly to you?

He made a charcoal mark on the left side,
The place he would shoot
To release the bird, my anguish,
Once more into the empty night.

How the night of ecstasy exhausted me,
How the morning of breathed ice.

Darling, don't crumple my letter,
Read it through, my friend, to the end.

Only children love like this,
And then only the first time.

The longing is impure,
the devil's snare.
Whiter than anything on earth
Was her hand.

When you have spent the pennies of delight
With your sweetheart
And your surfeited soul
Feels sudden disgust--
Don't come to me in my triumphant night.
I won't know you.
And how could I help you?
I don't cure anyone of unhappiness.

He will get a whole lifetime of poems,
The prayer of my arrogant lips.

The gloating mockery of disciples,
And the indifference of the crowd.

My lucky, rich inheritor,
Welcome to my legacy.

And how could I forgive her
The delight of your enamoured praise...
You see, for her, so fashionably nude,
It's fun to be sad.

The everlasting is rosy and dry. There are clouds
Crudely sculpted in the cooling sky.

The Mother of Gd will spread her white mantle
Over this enormous grief.

Lets go into a church--we will watch
A funeral, christenings, a marriage service,
Without looking at each other, we will leave...
What's wrong with us?
Or let's sit on the trampled snow
Of the graveyard, sighing lightly,
And with your walking stick you'll outline palaces
Where we will be together always.

A mother's fate--glorious anguish,
I was not worthy of it.

And so it happened: imprisonment
Became my second home,
As for the first, I don't dare
To remember it, even in prayer.

It's good that you forgive,
You weren't always so kind.

I know you won't be able
To remember much about me, little one:
I didn't scold you, I didn't hold you,
I didn't take you to Communion.

You say--my country is sinful,
And I say--your country is godless.
If the blame were ours--
Everything could be redeemed and repaired.

Like a burden henceforth unnecessary,
The shadows of passion and songs vanished from
my memory.
The Most High ordered it--emptied--
To become a grim book of calamity.

And the body no longer commemorates
the anniversary of its grief.

Forgive me that I ignored the sun
And that I lived in sorrow.
Forgive, forgive, that I
Mistook too many others for you.

Some idler invented the idea
That there's something in the world called love.

Only heaven's blue is inexhaustible,
And the mercy of God.

You are like a sinner turning his eyes,
Before death, to the sweetest dream of paradise...

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