Words lying empty, without breathing –
that don’t know why they exist at all.
Words with no goal, words with no meaning,
that shelter no one from the cold
and haven’t fed a single soul.
Words of impotence – of the weak!
Words that don’t dare, too shy to speak.
They give no heat, they shed no light,
but, with an orphan’s grief, go mute,
not knowing they are mutilated.
by Мария Сергеевна Петровых (Maria Sergeyevna Petrovykh)
translated by Boris Dralyuk
Freshness of words, simplicity of emotions,
If we lost these, would it not be as though
Blindness had stricken Fra Angelico,
Or an actor lost his power of voice and motion?
But don’t behave as if you own
What has been given you by the Saviour:
We ourselves know, we are condemned to squander
Our wealth, and not to save. Alone
Go out and heal the cataract,
And later, witness your own disciples’
Malice and jeers, and see the people’s
Stolid indifference to the act.
– by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova) (1915)
– from Белая стая (White Flock, 1917) translation by D. M. Thomas