He strokes my neck like the barrel of a rifle
he might have killed that German with,
his boots by the door, susceptible to the cold.
I glow by the fire in tandem with
the rosewood dresser, impartial to flames,
me with a passion for granite, him
with his head shaved against the night,
shedding his armour plate by plate.
I sleep under his shield, enfolded
in an English flag I think will
become my shroud. While I thrill
among the lilies, placing a chestnut
on the grate like a move in chess,
I see the incentive of lace
defeat artillery hands down.
by Samantha Wynne Rhydderch
Interesting info: Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch, sometimes referred to as S. W. Rhydderch, has published two collections, Rockclimbing in Silk (Seren, 2001), and Not in These Shoes (Picador, 2008), which was shortlisted for Wales Book of the Year 2009.
Grant me years of sickness and fever;
make me sleepless for months at a time.
Take away my child and my lover
and the mysterious gift of rhyme.
As the air grows ever more sultry,
this is the prayer I recite:
and may the storm cloud over my country
be shot through with rays of light.
by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova)
(11 May 1915, Day of the Holy Spirit), St Petersburg
translation by Robert Chandler
Not the lyre of a lover
I’ll carry through my land
The rattle of a leper
Will sing in my hand.
– by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova), 1940
– from Тростник (Reed) / Из шести книг (From the Sixth Book)
– translation by D. M. Thomas
Behind the lake the moon’s not stirred
And seems to be a window through
Into a silent, well-lit house,
Where something unpleasant has occurred.
Has the master been brought home dead,
The mistress run off with a lover,
Or has a little girl gone missing,
And her shoes found by the creek-bed…
We can’t see. But feel some awful thing,
And we don’t want to talk.
Doleful, the cry of eagle-owls, and hot
In the garden the wind is blustering.
– by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova) (1922)
– from Anno Domini MCMXXI translation by D. M. Thomas