The wizard’s gifts were only stone,
the River Neva’s yellow brown,
and empty squares like desert wastes
for executions staged at dawn.
by Иннокентий Фёдорович Анненский (Innokenty Fyodorovich Annensky)
translated by Robert Chandler
Grant me years of sickness and fever;
make me sleepless for months at a time.
Take away my child and my lover
and the mysterious gift of rhyme.
As the air grows ever more sultry,
this is the prayer I recite:
and may the storm cloud over my country
be shot through with rays of light.
by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova)
(11 May 1915, Day of the Holy Spirit), St Petersburg
translation by Robert Chandler