To the muse

Muse-sister gazed at me pensively,

Her clear bright eyes didn’t blink,

And snatched the gold ring from me,

The very first gift of spring.

Muse! you see, how happy they feel–

Young ladies, widows, and wives…

I would much rather die on the wheel

Than to be in these fetters for life.

I know: while guessing, even I will tear

Those delicate daisy petals.

All on this earth are destined to bear

The torments of love unsettled.

Until sunrise, my candle remains aglow

And there isn’t a person I miss,

But I don’t, don’t, don’t want to know

How another woman is kissed.

Tomorrow, laughing, the mirrors will say:

“Your gaze isn’t clear or bright…”

And I’ll reply quietly: “She took away

A gift from God that night.”
Anna Akhmatova
Read in English and Russian
0

Not the snake fangs, but the stinging

Not the snake fangs, but the stinging

Heartache emptied out my veins.

A quiet girl, I call love, singing

Birdlike in the whitened plains.

The other road closed long ago,

My prince - in a fortress, up high,

Will I betray him? – I don’t know!

But my life on this earth is a lie.

I won’t forget how he bid me farewell

I didn’t cry; I knew it was fate.

To visit his dreams, I’m casting new spells

But my spells are in vain, I’m afraid.

Does he sleep so serenely, locked in,

All because I’m barred and locked out,

Or is the bright-eyed tender Sirin

Already singing to him from a cloud?
Anna Akhmatova
Read in English and Russian
0

Bury me, bury me, wind!

Bury me, bury me, wind!

None of my kin had arrived,

Above me, the evening dimmed

And the earth indistinctly sighed.

Like you, I was free and of course,

I couldn’t resist life’s charms

And now, wind, you see my corpse,

With no one to fold my arms.

Let this black wound recede

As the shroud of darkness spreads,

And command azure mist to read

Psalms up above my head.

To ease me, alone, on the brink

Of sleep for the final time,

Make the sedges rustle of spring,

Of the spring that used to be mine.
Anna Akhmatova
Read in English and Russian
0

The threshing barn is stifling and hot

The threshing barn is stifling and hot,

I laugh, but in my heart, I weep from spite.

My old friend mumbles to me: “Jinx it not,

Can’t you discern that luck is on our side!”

I listen to my old friend’s words with doubt.

He’s lost his sight, he’s ludicrous and vile.

He spent his whole life trampling the ground

Of long and dreary trails in denial.

My fragile voice is crying out with sorrow,

The ringing voice of those who knew no better:

“Our knapsacks are all emptied and tomorrow

Just promises more hunger and foul weather!”
Anna Akhmatova
Read in English and Russian
0

I didn’t lock the door

I didn’t lock the door

And candles weren’t lit,

Exhausted, sleepy, sore, -

I wouldn’t sleep a bit.

I’d watch lights dying down,

And gloomy evening firs,

And get drunk on the sounds

A voice, so much like yours.

My loss - a heavy burden

And life is agony!

I used to be so certain

That you’d return to me.
Anna Akhmatova
Read in English and Russian
0

A loafer, wandering around

A loafer, wandering around, -

No matter where, I’m pining bored.

The mill is drowsing on the mound.

Here, years can pass without a word.

Above the dodder, all dried up,

A bee glides gently in the breeze,

I call the mermaid by the pond,

But the mermaid’s long deceased.

The pond is shallow now, enclosed

And covered up with rusty slime,

Over the shaking aspen boughs

The crescent moon begins to shine.

Damp scent of poplar-trees is spreading.

I notice everything anew.

I’m silent. Silently, I’m ready

To be transformed, earth, into you.
Anna Akhmatova
Read in English and Russian
0

By the early sunrise seized

By the early sunrise seized,

I sing of love aloud,

In the garden, on my knees

Weeding goosefoot out.

I tear it out and I hurl –

Pardon this offense.

I see a little barefoot girl

Crying by the fence.

Voice of sorrow rings and swells,

Filling me with dread,

Stronger grows the tepid smell

Of the weed now dead.

Stone, not bread, will be my prize

To accept with poise,

Up above me, just the skies,

And with me, your voice.
Anna Akhmatova
Read in English and Russian
0

Nothing chains a heart to heart

Nothing chains a heart to heart,

If you’d like to leave.

Many joys will life impart

On the one who’s free.

I don’t cry, complain or pout,

Mine is not a life of bliss.

Do not kiss me, all worn out, -

Death will come to kiss.

Bitter languor has been weathered

With the winter snows.

Why, o why, must you be better

Than the one I chose?
Anna Akhmatova
Read in English and Russian
0

My husband beat me with the plating

My husband beat me with the plating

Of a belt he bent in two.

With a candle, I keep waiting

On the windowsill for you.

It is dawning. Smoke is weaving,

Rising up above the forge.

O, for me, a captive grieving,

You, again, did not emerge.

It’s for you such fate I bear,

Filled with torment and ordeal,

Did you fall for someone fair?

Does a redhead now appeal?

How to mask such ringing moaning!

Heart is stifled, drunk with dread,

As the thin rays of the morning

Graze the still unrumpled bed.
Anna Akhmatova
Read in English and Russian
0

When you’re drunk, you’re so much fun

When you’re drunk, you’re so much fun -

Your rambling tales make no sense.

The early fall arrived and hung

Bright yellow flags upon the elms.

In the land of fraud and guile,

We have strayed, and now, repent,

But, what are these fictitious smiles,

On our lips, so strangely bent?

Not happiness or peace of mind,

A biting torment - we pursued…

I will not leave my friend behind, -

So tender and so dissolute.
Anna Akhmatova
Read in English and Russian
0