Friday, June 23, 2006

Anna Akhmatova

Russian (Ukranian) poet, Anna Akhmatova, was born June 23, 1888. According to Joseph Brodsky, who introduced _Poems_, selected & translated by Lyn Coffin, Akhmatova's father forced her to write under an assumed name: "When her father learned that his daughter was about to publish a selection of her poems in a St. Petersburg magazine, he called her in and told her that although he had nothing against her writing poetry, he'd urge her 'not to befoul the good respected name' and to use a pseudonym. The daughter agreed, and this is how 'Anna Akmatova' entered Russian literature instead of Anna Gorenko" (xiii).

"Lot's Wife"
by Anna Akhmatova
Translated by Max Hayward and Stanley Kunitz

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."

A single glance: a sudden dart of pain
stitching her eyes before she made a sound . . .
Her body flaked into transparent salt,
and her swift legs rooted to the ground.

Who will grieve for this woman? Does she not seem
too insignificant for our concern?
Yet in my heart I never will deny her,
who suffered death because she chose to turn.

From Poems of Akhmatova, by Anna Akhmatova and translated by Stanley Kunitz and Max Hayward. Published by Little, Brown & Co. © 1973 by Stanley Kunitz and Max Hayward. Granted by permission of Darhansoff & Verrill Literary Agency. All rights reserved (, linked above).


HariBK said...

What a beautiful poem. I've been reading Akhmatova this last week, preparing to explore her work with some other poets so this was timely. An amazing woman, an amazing life. Thanks. And Thanks for adding PoetryEvolution to your LINKS. I'll be checking in now and again to see what you've got going and hope to have you visit me as well.
Peace, love, light...

Brandon said...

I have developed an appreciation for Akhmatova. That is a beautiful poem. I need to buy a copy of her work for my own library.