Anna Akhmatova

Russian Life, January-February 2013 | Go to article overview

Anna Akhmatova


The winter of 1913 will forever hold a special place within Russian literature, because this was the year eulogized by ANNA AKHMATOVA in her "Poem without a Hero," written amidst the cold and hunger that was Leningrad in late 1940. Even before the blockade, Akhmatova's life was fraught with misery. She had recently lost relatives and her son was imprisoned in a labor camp. It was under these circumstances that she composed "Poem without a Hero," which is filled with reminiscences of prerevolutionary Russia's final year of peace.

Bonfires warmed the Christmas holidays, And carriages slid off the bridges. And the whole mournful city floated

Toward some mysterious goal With the Neva's current or against it--Only away from its graves.

The Galernaya arch darkened, In the Summer Garden the weathervane squealed, And the silver crescent moon brightly chilled Over the Silver Age.

And ever-present in the freezing, prewar, Lecherous, terrible, stifling air, Lurked an incomprehensible rumble . …

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