Август 1940 (August 1940) by Anna Akhmatova

When you bury an epoch

You do not sing psalms at the tomb.

Soon, nettles and thistles

Will be in bloom.

And only – bodies won’t wait! –

The gravediggers toil;

And it’s quiet, Lord, so quiet,

Time has become audible.

And one day the age will rise,

Like a corpse in a spring river –

But no mother’s son will recognize

The body of his mother.

Grandsons will bow their heads.

The moon like a pendulum swinging.

And now – over stricken Paris

Silence is winging.



by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova)


from Седьмая книга (The Seventh Book)

translation by D. M. Thomas

A recital of the poem, in Russian, by Pavel Besedin.

Below is the original version of the poem in Cyrillic.

Август 1940

То град твой, Юлиан!

Вяч. Иванов

Когда погребают эпоху,

Надгробный псалом не звучит,

Крапиве, чертополоху

Украсить ее предстоит.

И только могильщики лихо

Работают. Дело не ждет!

И тихо, так, господи, тихо,

Что слышно, как время идет.

А после она выплывает,

Как труп на весенней реке,—

Но матери сын не узнает,

И внук отвернется в тоске.

И клонятся головы ниже,

Как маятник, ходит луна.

Так вот — над погибшим Парижем

Такая теперь тишина.


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Russian and Welsh poetry. Updated every Sunday. Also reviews of literature, films, theatre, food and drink, etc. Any support or engagement is appreciated.

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