So many requests, always, from a lover!
None when they fall out of love.
I’m glad the water does not move
Under the colourless ice of the river.
And I’ll stand – God help me! – on this ice,
However light and brittle it is,
And you… take care of our letters,
That our descendants not misjudge us,
That they may read and understand
More clearly what you are, wise, brave.
In your glorious biography
No row of dots should stand.
Earth’s drink is much too sweet,
Love’s nets too close together.
May my name be in the textbooks
Of children playing in the street.
When they’ve read my grievous story,
May they smile behind their desklids…
If I can’t have love, if I can’t find peace,
Give me a bitter glory.
– by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova) (1913)
– from Четки (Rosary, 1914), translation by D. M. Thomas