The Guest by Anna Akhmatova

Nothing is different: thin snow beats

Against the dining-room window-pane.

I am totally unchanged,

but a man came to see me.


I asked: ‘What do you want?’

He said: ‘To be with you in hell.’

I laughed, ‘Ah, there I can’t

Oblige you, you’d wish us ill.’


His dry hand touched a petal

With a light caress.

‘Tell me how they kiss you,

Tell me how you kiss.’


And his eyes, glinting dully,

Never slid from my ring;

Never a single muscle

Moved under his snakeskin.


O I know: his joy, his greed,

Is to know intensely, eye to eye,

There’s nothing that he needs,

Nothing I can deny.


– by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova) (1 January 1914)

– from Четки (Rosary, 1914), translation by D. M. Thomas


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Poetry, theatre, literature, films, reviews and various other matters. Primarily Russian and Welsh subjects.

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