Anna Akhmatova

(23 June 1889 – 5 March 1966 / Odessa)

Quotations

  • ''It was a time when only the dead
    smiled, happy in their peace.
    ...
    Stars of Death stood over us,
    and innocent Russia squirmed
    under the bloody boots,
    under the wheels of black Marias.''
    Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966), Russian poet. "Requiem," introduction, trans. by Richard McKane (1985). Though Akhmatova's long poem about the Stalinist purges—during which time her only son was arrested—was written mainly 1935-1940, it was not published until 1963 in West Germany, and not in its entirety in the Soviet Union until 1987.
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  • ''The triumphs of a mysterious non-meeting are desolate ones; unspoken phrases, silent words.''
    Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966), Russian poet. "Two Poems," no. 2, l. 1 (1956), trans. by Dimitri Obolensky (1965).
  • ''Wild honey smells of freedom
    The dust—of sunlight
    The mouth of a young girl, like a violet
    But gold—smells of nothing.''
    Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966), Russian poet. "Wild Honey Smells of Freedom," lines 1-4, as translated by Lenore Mayhew and William McNaughton (1943).

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White Night

I haven't locked the door,
Nor lit the candles,
You don't know, don't care,
That tired I haven't the strength
To decide to go to bed.
Seeing the fields fade in
The sunset murk of pine-needles,
And to know all is lost,

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