Monday, March 6, 2023

Anna Akhmatova*

Anna Akhmatova (1889—1966) is a Russian poet who lived most of her life in Saint Petersburg. Her first poetry collection, Evening (1912), established her as a significant poet, and her next two books Rosary (1914) and White Flock (1917) continued to build her reputation.

After the Russian Revolution of 1917, Akhmatova chose to remain in Russia even as other writers were fleeing to the West. Requiem, which she primarily wrote between 1935 and 1940, at first was about the arrest of her common-law husband Nikolay in 1935, but then became even more about the arrest of their son Lev in 1938 and his subsequent trial and sentencing.

The following is the tenth section from Requiem as translated by Stephen Capas. It appeared in the literary journal Cardinal Points in 2021.



Don’t weep for me, Mother,
As I lie in my grave.

Choirs of angels hymned the glorious hour,
Dissolved in flame, the heavens glowed overhead.
“Why hast though forsaken me, my Father?”
And “Mother, do not weep for me,” he said.


Magdalen sobbed and wrung her hands in anguish,
The disciple whom he loved was still as stone.
But no one dared to look toward the place where
The Mother stood in silence, all alone.


This post was suggested by my friend Burl Horniachek.

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Anna Akhmatova: first post.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the author of five poetry collections including Angelicus (2021, Cascade) ― a book of poems written from the point-of-view of angels. His books are available through Wipf & Stock.