Some things succeed, and some things fail;
everything’s nonsense that passes away…
But even so this reddish-brown grass
which grows by a gate in the fence will last.
… If Russian speech has the power to go
back to the land where the Neva flows –
from Paris I send these muddled words,
though even to me they sound absurd.
by Георгий Владимирович Иванов (Georgii Vladimirovich Ivanov)
by Stephen Capus
Do you forgive me these November days?
In canals around the Neva fires fragment.
Scant is tragic autumn’s finery.
by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova)
November 1913, St Petersburg
from Четки (Rosary, Beads)
translation by D. M. Thomas
How can you look at the Neva,
Stand on bridges just the same? …
No wonder I’ve borne signs of grieving
Since the night your image came.
Sharp are the black angels’ wings,
Soon the judgement of the dead,
And street bonfires blazing red
Like roses in snow are flowering.
– by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova) (1914)
– from Белая стая (White Flock, 1917) translation by D. M. Thomas