I wrote the words that lately

I wrote the words that lately

I wouldn’t dare to speak.

My head is dully aching,

My body’s numb and weak.

The distant horn’s subsided,

Heart’s mysteries – unknown.

First autumn snow fell lightly

Upon the croquet lawn.

Last aching thoughts will linger!

Last leaves will come undone!

I never wished to hinder

The one who's used to fun.

Dear lips - absolved at last

For jokes that hurt me so…

You’ll come to visit us

Tomorrow, through the snow.

Candles aglow, by day,

Are tender and more ardent.

They’ll bring a whole bouquet

Of roses from the garden.
Anna Akhmatova
Read in English and Russian

Dark blue evening. Winds abate

Dark blue evening. Winds abate,

Lured by the light, I make my way.

I’m guessing, standing by the gate –

Who could he be? – My fiancé?...

On the porch, a silhouette,

And a quiet conversation.

Never have I ever felt

Such a languorous sensation.

Anxious poplars stir and sigh,

As their tender dreams prevail,

Burnished steel infused the sky

And the stars are dull and pale.

In the bunch of gillyflowers

There’s a secret flame embalmed

For the one who’ll take the blossoms

And caress my timid palm.
Anna Akhmatova
Read in English and Russian

The wind is stifling and parching

The wind is stifling and parching,

Sun-burnt fingers in the grass,

Overhead, the heaven’s arches

Are made of blue and fragile glass;

The fallen immortelles are drying,

Near the sickle swinging loose.

Working ants have formed a highway

Running up the twisting spruce.

The silver pond is idly gleaming,

Life is easy – no regret…

O, I wonder whom I’ll dream of

In my hammock’s motley net?
Anna Akhmatova
Read in English and Russian


This morning’s drunk with sunny weather,

And on the terrace, - loud scents of roses,

The sky is brighter than the blue faience.

The notebook’s bound in the soft Morocco leather;

I’m reading in it elegies and verses

All written for my grandma in romance.

I see the road up to the gate, and up ahead,

White pillars shining in the emerald lawn.

The heart loves blindly, completely gripped!

I find delight in gaudy flowerbeds,

The sudden cries of the ascending crow,

And the secluded arches of the crypt.
Anna Akhmatova
Read in English and Russian

My legs are useless at the present

My legs are useless at the present,

May they become a fish’s tail!

I’m swimming, and the chill is pleasant,

The distant bridge is glowing pale.

I’ll give my passive soul away,

Let it be turned to smoke anew,

And light, above the gloomy quay,

It’ll change into a tender-blue.

Just look, how deeply I’ve retreated,

I’m diving - seaweed everywhere,

Nobody’s words will be repeated,

Nobody’s yearning will ensnare.

My distant, could it be, somehow,

Grief-stricken, you’ve become unsteady?

What do I hear? For three weeks now,

You only whisper: “why, poor lady!?”
Anna Akhmatova
Read in English and Russian

Strange boy, I’ve gone mad at last

Strange boy, I’ve gone mad at last,

Wednesday, around three!

On my ring finger, a wasp

Stung me angrily.

I accidentally squeezed my grip,

And it died, I think,

But sharper than a spindle’s tip

Was its poisoned sting.

Strange one, is it you I’ll mourn,

And will your smile linger?

Look! How beautifully adorned

Is this ring upon my finger!
Anna Akhmatova
Read in English and Russian

As with a straw, you drink

As with a straw, you drink the soul from me.

I know, its taste is bitter, strong and heady.

I won’t disturb this torment with a plea.

I’ve been at peace for many weeks already.

Say when you’re done. It isn’t sad at all,

At last, my soul has vanished from this earth.

I’ll take the short path for a quiet stroll

To see the children occupied in mirth.

The gooseberry is blossoming all over,

Behind the fence, they’re hauling bricks in tow.

Who can you be: my brother or my lover,

I can’t recall, and do not need to know.

How bright, and how unsheltered I'm already -

My body’s resting, nearly worn away,

The passersby are contemplating vaguely:

She must have turned a widow yesterday.
Anna Akhmatova
Read in English and Russian

Song of the final meeting

How helplessly chilled was my chest, yet

My footsteps were nimble and light.

I unconsciously put on my left hand

The glove that belonged on my right.

It seemed that the stairs were endless,

But I knew - there were only three!

Autumn, whispering through the maples,

Pleaded: “Die here with me!

I was blindly deceived by my dreary,

Dismal, changeable Fate.” “And I too,”

I responded, “My darling, my dear one,

And I’ll also die here with you.”

This is the song of the final meeting.

I looked up at your house, - all dark inside.

Just the bedroom candles burned with a fleeting,

Indifferent and yellowish light.
Anna Akhmatova
Read in English and Russian

You want to know how this came to be

…You want to know how this came to be? -

In the dining room, the clock struck three,

Holding the banister timidly,

While saying goodbye, she said listlessly:

“That is it… No, there is more, you see.

I love you. I loved you wholeheartedly

Even back then, no less!” –

Anna Akhmatova
Read in English and Russian

The door ajar

The door ajar, the sudden

Sweet scents of limes close up…

The glove and whip, forgotten,

Lie on the tabletop.

The oval of the lamp aglow…

I’m listening, intent.

Why did you have to go?

I do not understand…

Tomorrow morning surely will

Be jubilant and nice,

And life is simply gorgeous still,

My heart, you must be wise.

Exhausted and worn out bare,

You beat so faintly, gasping…

You know, I’ve read somewhere

That souls are everlasting.
Anna Akhmatova
Read in English and Russian