Anna Akhmatova: memory, love, lust and loss.

Anna Akmatova: “Russian modernist poet, one of the most acclaimed writers in the Russin canon…Her style, characterised by its economy and emotional restraint, was strikingly original and distinctive to her contemporaries. The strong and clear leading female voice struck a new chord in Russian poetry.”

All three poems seem to show her at peace. I can’t believe that someone who decided not to emigrate from Russia but brave Stalin’s murderous reign is at peace. I think she was trying to convince herself that she is not on edge but balanced, not lost in pain of white death, nor off balanced by longing and lust. She says she is old, and it’s cold outside, and that something made her feel young and warm, the guest who wants to kiss her, who wants to own her, who wants to show her that the young men? women? know nothing of how to kiss. I think in the third poem she does wake up warm and happy, a saint’s day is a festivity -albeit one for the day the saint associated with your name, died. Not sure why communicants sleeplessly sleep. I read that waking up from sleep is seen as resurrection and that communicants partake in Jesus’ body’s resurrection. I found the line “may we not sleep in sins, but awake and rejoicing in his praises”. What that means together is not clear to me: maybe that she was rejoicing in his name-day while she was asleep, unconsciously celebrating already. That’s a nice thought about sleeping with happiness because of someone else’s joy.

Memory’s Voice

For O. A. Glebova-Sudeikina

‘What do you see, on the wall, dimly alive,
At that hour when the sunset eats the sky?

A seagull, on a blue cloth of waters,
Or perhaps it’s those Florentine gardens?

Or is it Tsarskoye Seloe’s vast view,
Where terror stepped out before you?

Or that one who left your captivity,
And walked into white death, freely?’

No, I see only the wall – that shows
Reflections of heaven’s dying glow.

The Guest

All’s as it was: the snowstorm’s
Fine flakes wet the window pane,
And I myself am not new-born,
But a man came to me today.

But, his dry hand touched
A petal with a light caress:
‘Tell me, how they kiss you,
Tell me, how you kiss.’

8th November 1913

Sunlight fills my room
With hot dust, lucent, grey.
I wake, and I remember:
Today is your saint’s day.
That’s why even the snow
Is warm beyond the window,
That’s why, sleeplessly,
Like a communicant, I slept.

Translated by A. S. Kline © 2005, 2012 All Rights Reserved.

“Her work was condemned and censored by Stalinist authorities and she is notable for choosing not to emigrate, and remaining in Russia, acting as witness to the atrocities around her. Her perennial themes include meditations on time and memory, and the difficulties of living and writing in the shadow of Stalinism.”

More easy to read information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anna_Akhmatova

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