In a Shattered Mirror: The Later Poetry of Anna Akhmatova

By Susan Amert | Go to book overview

Chapter 1
Secrets of the Craft

Without mystery there is no poetry. --Anna Akhmatova

There is no lyric poetry without dialogue. --Osip Mandelstam

Akhmatova 1947 essay on Alexander Pushkin Stone Guest begins with a discussion of Pushkin's fall from grace with his reading public in the later years of his life. At first, she writes, Pushkin was adored by his contemporaries, but around 1830 they recoiled from him because of the profound change in his writing:

The reason for this lies above all in Pushkin himself. He had changed. Instead of The Prisoner of the Caucasus, he writes The Little House in Kolomna; instead of The Fountain of Bakhchisarai--The Little Tragedies, then The Golden Cockerel, The Bronze Horseman. His contemporaries were perplexed, his enemies and enviers exulted. His friends kept silent. 1

She then cites Pushkin's own remarks on the subject, including an excerpt from a draft of his 1830 article on Evgenii Baratynskii, a poet who had likewise fallen into disfavor with his readers in the late 1820's:

The concepts, the feelings of an eighteen-year-old poet are near and dear to everyone, young readers understand him and ecstatically recognize in his works their own feelings and thoughts, expressed clearly, vividly, and harmoniously. But the years go by, the young poet matures, his talent grows, the concepts become more lofty, the feelings change. His songs are

-1-

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In a Shattered Mirror: The Later Poetry of Anna Akhmatova
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xi
  • Chapter 1 Secrets of the Craft 1
  • Chapter 2 Akhmatova's Song of the Motherland: the Framing Texts of Requiem 30
  • Chapter 3 "Prehistory": A Russian Creation Myth 60
  • Chapter 4 the Poet's Lot in Poem Without a Hero 93
  • Chapter 5 the Poet's Transfigurations in the Sweetbrier Blooms 131
  • Chapter 6 the Design of Memory 165
  • Notes 197
  • Notes 199
  • Bibliography 247
  • Index 265
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