I speak in those words suddenly
That rise once in the soul. So sharply comes
The musty odour of an old sachet,
A bee hums on a white chrysanthemum.
And the room, where the light strikes through slits,
Cherishes love, for here it is still new.
A bed, with a French inscription over it,
Reading: ‘Seigneur, ayez pitié de nous.’
Of such a lived-through legend the sad strokes
You must not touch, my soul, nor seek to do…
Of Sèvres statuettes the brilliant cloaks
I see are darkening and wearing through.
Yellow and heavy, one last ray has poured
Into a fresh bouquet of dahlias
And hardened there. And I hear viols play
And of a clavecin the rare accord.
– by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova) (1910, Tsarskoye Selo)
– from Вечер (Evening, 1912), translation by D. M. Thomas