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Anna Akhmatova (1889 – 1966)

Russian poet, known primarily by her pen name Anna Akhmatova [????? ?????????].
Anna Akhmatova
One of the great Russian poets and a national heroine, Anna Akhmatova (née Gorenko) is not venerated outside Russia as a major poetic voice of the twentieth century. She seemed born to endure the great tragedy in her life and indeed was one of Stalin's most long-suffering literary victims. Her tremendous will to survive, in her self-appointed role as witness of the Great Terror, testifies to huge inner reserves of moral strength that sustained her through years of extreme poverty and isolation, to ultimately become a latter-day nemisis of the dark days of Stalinism. ... Her individualism survived the early days of foment in Soviet literature, when literary experimentation was for a short while tolerated, but her work was soon looked upon as insufficiently socialist in its concerns and was suppressed as "bourgeois" after the publication of her collection Anno Domini MCMXXI in 1922. It was the appearance of this work that prompted the eminent Soviet literary critic Boris Eichenbaum to famously deride Akhmatova as "half nun, half harlot" (an epithet later reprised by Andrey Zhdanov in the campaign against Akhmatova in the 1940s).
Akhmatova quotes
There is no death, each of us knows —
it's banal to say.
I'll leave it to others to explain.
A choir of angels glorified the hour,
the vault of heaven was dissolved in fire.
"Father, why hast Thou forsaken me?
Mother, I beg you, do not weep for me..."

Akhmatova Anna quotes
O let the organ, many-voiced, sing boldly,
O let it roar like spring's first thunderstorm!
My half-closed eyes over your young bride's shoulder
Will meet your eyes just once and then no more.
Akhmatova Anna
From childhood I have been afraid
of mummers. It always seemed
an extra shadow
without face or name
had slipped among them...
Anna Akhmatova quotes
I know beginnings, I know endings too,
and life-in-death, and something else
I'd rather not recall just now.
Anna Akhmatova
Not a single muscle quivered
On his radiantly evil face.
Oh, I know: his delight
Is the tense and passionate knowledge
That he needs nothing,
That I can refuse him nothing.
Akhmatova Anna quotes
In the terrible years of Yezhov terror I spent seventeen months waiting in line outside the prison in Leningrad. One day somebody in the crowd identified me. Standing behind me was a woman with lips blue from the cold, who had, of course, never heard me called by name before. Now she started out of the torpor common to us all and asked me in a whisper (everyone whispered there):
"Can you describe this?"
And I said: "I can."
Then something like a smile passed fleetingly over what had once been her face.
— Leningrad, 1 April 1957
That was a time when only the dead
could smile, delivered from their wars,
and the sign, the soul, of Leningrad
dangled outside its prison-house...
Akhmatova Anna
Each of our lives is a Shakespearean drama raised to the thousandth degree. Mute separations, mute black, bloody events in every family. Invisible mourning worn by mothers and wives. Now the arrested are returning, and two Russias stare each other in the eyes: the ones that put them in prison and the ones who were put in prison. A new epoch has begun. You and I will wait for it together.
Anna Akhmatova
It's all the same to me. The Yenisei swirls,
the North Star shines, as it will shine forever;
and the blue lustre of my loved one's eyes
is clouded over by the final horror.
— The House on the Fontanka, 19 August 1939

Anna Akhmatova quotes
And the just man trailed God's shining agent,
over a black mountain, in his giant track,
while a restless voice kept harrying his woman:
"It's not too late, you can still look back
at the red towers of your native Sodom,
the square where once you sang, the spinning-shed,
at the empty windows set in the tall house
where sons and daughters blessed your marriage-bed."
Anna Akhmatova
Damn you! I will not grant your cursed soul
Vicarious tears or a single glance.
And I swear to you by the garden of the angels,
I swear by the miracle-working icon,
And by the fire and smoke of our nights:
I will never come back to you.
Akhmatova quotes
Anna Andreevna Akhmatova used poetry to give voice to the struggles and deepest yearnings of the Russian people, for whom she remains the greatest of literary heroines. She has lately come to symbolize for the world even beyond Russia the power of art to survive and transcend the terrors of our century.
Akhmatova Anna
For some the wind can fleshly blow,
for some the sunlight fade at ease,
but we, made partners in our dread,
hear but the grating of the keys,
and heavy-booted soldiers' tread.
As if for early mass, we rose
and each day walked the wilderness,
trudging through silent street and square,
to congregate, less live than dead.
Akhmatova Anna quotes
This cruel age has deflected me,
like a river from this course.
Strayed from its familiar shores,
my changeling life has flowed
into a sister channel.
How many spectacles I've missed:
the curtain rising without me,
and falling too. How many friends
I never had the chance to meet.
Anna Akhmatova
Now you're gone, and nobody says a word
about your troubled and exalted life.
Only my voice, like a flute, will mourn
at your dumb funeral feast.
Anna Akhmatova quotes
Is this the visitor from the wrong side
of the mirror? Or the shape
that suddenly flitted past my window?
Is it the new moon playing tricks,
or is someone really standing there again
between the stove and the cupboard?
Anna Akhmatova
The silvery tree opens
to an empty sky —
maybe it is better
that I am not your husband.
Akhmatova Anna
Such grief might make the mountain stoop,
reverse the waters where they flow,
but cannot burst these ponderous bolts
that block us from the prison cells
crowded with mortal woe...

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