-I have come to take your place, sister,
At the high fire in the forest’s heart.
Your eyes have grown dull, your tears cloudy,
Your hair is grey.
You don’t understand the songs birds sing
Anymore, nor stars, nor summer lighting.
Don’t hear it when the women strike
The tamborine; yet you fear the silence.
I have come to take your place, sister,
At the high fire in the forest’s heart’…
-‘You’ve come to put me in the grave.
Where is your shovel and your spade?
You’re carrying just a flute.
I’m not going to blame you,
Sadly a long time ago
My voice fell mute.
Have my clothes to wear,
Answer my fears with silence,
Let the wind blow
Through your hair, smell of the lilac.
You have come by a hard road
To be lit up by this fire.’
And one went away, ceding
The place to another, wandering
Like a blind woman reading
An unfamiliar narrow path,
And still it seemed to her a flame
Was close… In her hand a tamborine…
And she was like a white flag,
And like the light of a beacon.
– by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova) (1912)
– from Четки (Rosary, 1914), translation by D. M. Thomas