Do You Forgive Me These November Days? by Anna Akhmatova

Do you forgive me these November days?

In canals around the Neva fires fragment.

Scant is tragic autumn’s finery.

 

by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova)

November 1913, St Petersburg

from Четки (Rosary, Beads)

translation by D. M. Thomas

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8 November 1913 by Anna Akhmatova

The sun fills my room,

Yellow dust drifts aslant.

I wake up and remember:

This is your saint’s day.

 

That’s why even the snow

Outside my window is warm,

Why I, sleepless, have slept

Like a communicant.

 

by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova)

(8 November 1913)

from Четки (Rosary Beads)

translation by D. M. Thomas

It’s Good That Russia Has No Tsar by Georgy Ivanov

It’s good that Russia has no Tsar,

it’s good that Russia’s just a dream,

it’s good that God has disappeared,

 

that nothing’s real, except the stars

in icy skies, the yellow gleam

of dawn, the unrelenting years.

 

It’s good that people don’t exist,

that nothingness is all there is,

that life’s as dark and cold as this;

 

until we couldn’t be more dead,

nor ever were so dark before,

and no one now can bring us aid,

nor even needs to any more.

 

by Георгий Владимирович Иванов (Georgii Vladimirovich Ivanov)

(1930)

translated by Stephen Capus

There are Four of Us by Anna Akhmatova

O Muse of Weeping…

– M. Tsvetaeva

 

I have turned aside from everything,

From the whole earthly store.

The spirit and guardian of this place

is an old tree-stump in water.

 

We are brief guests of the earth, as it were,

And life is a habit we put on.

On paths of air I seem to overhear

Two friendly voices, talking in turn.

 

Did I say two? … There

By the east wall’s tangle of raspberry,

Is a branch of elder, dark and fresh.

Why! It’s a letter from Marina.

 

by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova)

(1961, in delirium)

from Седьмая книга (The Seventh Book)

translation by D. M. Thomas


In later Soviet editions of her works this poem is entitled ‘Komarovo Sketches‘. She spent a lot of time in her last years at Komarovo, fifty miles from Leningrad (St Petersburg), on the Karelian isthmus and is buried there.

The three poets referred to are Pasternak, Mandelstam and Tsvetaeva alongside Akhmatova herself.

The epigaph is from a poem addressed to Akhmatova in 1916.

Everything’s Changed, Nothing Has Changed by Georgy Ivanov

Everything’s changed, nothing has changed

in the strange chill, strange chill of dawn.

I’ve dreamed many dreams over the years

and now I awake – with the years all gone.

 

Here we go, here I stand in an autumn field

(changed, unchanged, I don’t understand) –

as if I’ve been given my freedom

and my last hope has been torn from my hand.

 

by Георгий Владимирович Иванов (Georgii Vladimirovich Ivanov)

a.k.a. Georgy Ivanov

(1944-5)

translated by Robert Chandler

Careful, Puss, There’s An Owl by Anna Akhmatova

Careful, puss, there’s an owl

embroidered on the chair.

Grey puss, don’t growl –

or Grandpa will hear.

The candle’s gone out;

there are mice on the stair.

I’m afraid of the owl.

Nanny, who put it there?

 

by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova)

(1911)

translation by Robert Chandler

‘The Stars Glow Blue. The Trees Are Swaying’ by Georgy Ivanov

The stars glow blue. The trees are swaying.

A routine evening. Routine winter, too.

All is forgiven. Nothing’s forgiven.

Music and gloom.

 

We are all heroes, we are all traitors;

all words are worthless, each and every one.

My dear contemporaries –

having fun?

 

by Георгий Владимирович Иванов (Georgii Vladimirovich Ivanov)

a.k.a. Georgy Ivanov

(1934)

translated by Maria Bloshteyn