Anna Akhmatova

(23 June 1889 – 5 March 1966 / Odessa)

Everything


Everything’s looted, betrayed and traded,
black death’s wing’s overhead.
Everything’s eaten by hunger, unsated,
so why does a light shine ahead?

By day, a mysterious wood, near the town,
breathes out cherry, a cherry perfume.
By night, on July’s sky, deep, and transparent,
new constellations are thrown.

And something miraculous will come
close to the darkness and ruin,
something no-one, no-one, has known,
though we’ve longed for it since we were children.

Submitted: Tuesday, January 21, 2003

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  • Bronze Star - 7,163 Points Daniel Brick (10/23/2014 10:03:00 PM)

    Hi Frank I have two translations of this poem but this one is a third I don't have and It is clearly the best. Akhmatova frequently refers to miracles in a low-keyed casual way as she does here announcing new constellations and then declaring the miraculous will soon inhabit their town torn by civil war. In real terms, things only got worse. But Akhmatova never abandoned her fellow Russians - SHE STAYED as she wrote proudly in one of her poems. When friends told her the composer Shostakovich was too humble to meet her, she wrote this poem for him SOMETHING MIRACULOUS BURNS IN MUSIC...MUSIC STAYED, EVEN AT MY GRAVE,
    AND SANG LIKE EARTH'S FIRST SHOWER OF RAIN OR FLOWERS EVERYWHERE ALIVE. (Report) Reply

  • Freshman - 1,723 Points Kevin Patrick (10/23/2014 9:38:00 PM)

    I have to admit I find the meaning of this baffling, its beautifully stated and there is a wonderful lyricism of the whole, is it about the destruction of a city? is it about the apocalypse the second stanza really throws a spanner with its lines

    By night, on July’s sky, deep, and transparent,
    new constellations are thrown.

    the meaning is elusive but the work is mythic and dreamlike. I feel massively thick headed, but this a pretty good work. (Report) Reply

  • Bronze Star - 6,613 Points Frank Avon (10/23/2014 2:09:00 AM)

    The translator deserves credit, too. I suspect that this was a difficult poem to translate into English; furthermore, I suspect that the translator has made an attempt to recapature the form of the poem as well as its sense. If so, this is commendable indeed. Does anyone know? (Report) Reply

  • Veteran Poet - 2,877 Points Pranab K Chakraborty (10/23/2014 2:05:00 AM)

    Fantastic the straight way of criticising those social perverts who never take any part in reformation but always shouting the negative terms to make people misguided from their own way of living.

    something no-one, no-one, has known,
    though we’ve longed for it since we were children....

    Excellent the utopia which always tries to distract our social strength to keep our existence together with manliness....... Nice write. (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 35,197 Points Aftab Alam Khursheed (10/23/2014 12:40:00 AM)

    A poem that is about the humanity that keeps-charity, love, hope, .....everything but it is very worst condition- poet says- Everything’s looted, betrayed and traded, black death’s wing’s overhead.- the Satanic way that sat overhead - misguiding - dragging..from everything to put us in fire ..lovely (Report) Reply

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