By: Anna Akhmatova


…and a decrepit handful of trees.

—Aleksandr Pushkin


And I matured in peace born of command,

in the nursery of the infant century,

and the voice of man was never dear to me,

but the breeze’s voice—that I could understand.

The burdock and the nettle I preferred,

but best of all the silver willow tree.

Its weeping limbs fanned my unrest with dreams;

it lived here all my life, obligingly.

I have outlived it now, and with surprise.

There stands the stump; with foreign voices other

willows converse, beneath our, beneath those skies,

and I am hushed, as if I’d lost a brother.


About the Author:

(Excerpt is taken from; https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/anna-akhmatova)


Anna Akhmatova is regarded as one of Russia’s greatest poets. In addition to poetry, she wrote prose including memoirs, autobiographical pieces, and literary scholarship on Russian writers such as Aleksandr Sergeevich Pushkin. She also translated Italian, French, Armenian, and Korean poetry. In her lifetime Akhmatova experienced both prerevolutionary and Soviet Russia, yet her verse extended and preserved classical Russian culture during periods of avant-garde radicalism and formal experimentation, as well as the suffocating ideological strictures of socialist realism. Akhmatova shared the fate that befell many of her brilliant contemporaries, including Osip Emil’evich Mandel’shtam, Boris Leonidovich Pasternak, and Marina Ivanovna Tsvetaeva. Although she lived a long life, it was darkened disproportionately by calamitous moments. Isaiah Berlin, who visited Akhmatova in her Leningrad apartment in November 1945 while serving in Russia as first secretary of the British embassy, aptly described her as a “tragic queen,” according to György Dalos. Berlin’s assessment has echoed through generations of readers who understand Akhmatova—her person, poetry, and, more nebulously, her poetic persona—as the iconic representation of noble beauty and catastrophic predicament.


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