We know what trembles in the scales,
What has to be accomplished.
The hour for courage. If all else fails,
With courage we are not unfurnished.
What though the dead be crowded, each to each,
What though our houses be destroyed? –
We will preserve you, Russian speech,
Keep you alive, great Russian word.
We will pass you to our sons and heirs
Free and clean, and they in turn to theirs,
And so forever.
by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova)
(23 February 1942)
from Седьмая книга (The Seventh Book)
translation by D. M. Thomas