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

Berlin Wall fell 25 years ago! Cold war. James Bond.

It Was A Weird Wall

It was a weird wall
Like the Mobius strip,
it had only one side,
the other one was unseen:
the far side of the Moon.
But some people would race
against bullets, to rip
the barbed finish tape
with their chests, to give
a push to the wrecking ball:
the pendulum of the invisible clock.

Under 11/09/89,
my diary says:
“Natasha lost a front tooth,
Liza for the first time
stood up in her crib
on her own.”

.
~Vera Pavlova, the author of the If There is Something to Desire. This poem was translated by Seven Seymour from the Russian.

The Missing Language

the cold days are counted up
the snow has stopped
and turned
into snow made of paper

I should finish
writing this story
but inside my head
is a snail
in its shell

its been sleeping there all winter
and hasn’t shown

maybe it’s dead by now

~Zafer Senocak, the author of Door Languages. This poem was translated by Elizabeth Oehlikers Wright from the German

We Have It All Now

We have it all now, dear Frau Schubert. The
borders’ invisible stitch. Impeccably tailored
fields. Close-cropped towns. A genetic crisis.
In the greenhouse, where I’m resting after
growing a novel, Newton’s orange ripens.

~Ewa Lipska, the author of The New Century and Pet Shops. This poem was translated by Barbara Bogoczek and Tony Howard from the Polish.

 

Berlin Wall Peddlers

History on sale
One chunk for only twenty dollars

Look at this one
it’s full of bullet holes
this one is stained with deserters’ blood
and see these two dark holes
they were burned by an anxious gaze
the remains of cold war on this one
still make you tremble
and what we have here
are the dancing footprints of the youth
and the shouting and clapping
when a heavy chain tore it down

~William Marr was an engineer by profession, working nearly thirty years at the Argonne National Laboratory. He now devotes himself to creating poetry and art.

 

The Berlin Wall

It was the day after,
John Kennedy had
uncharacteristically loud,
shouted the unforgettable
and oft misquoted words
‘Ich bin ein Berliner’,
words that echoed back
from the remnants of
a wall that had been built
with capitalist materials
and communist anger.

Gorbatschov sat
in the Sauna of his datscha,
partaking liberally of
near-frozen Vodka, pure,
while sweating in the name
of the people and humanity.

The loudspeaker crackled to life,
and the hiss of the water Aufguss
could not drown them out,
these historical doves, so rare.

Later, when the actor turned prez
threw down the gauntlet, loudly,
with the flushed cheeks of anger
and righteous indignation,
‘Mr. Gorbatschov, tear down this wall’,
the entire world applauded,
though some did not mean it at all.
But I do think that the wall was torn
down in its entirety, that day in the Sauna.

~Dr. Herbert Nehrlich