‘There Is A Frontier-Line…’ by Anna Akhmatova

There is a frontier-line in human closeness

That love and passion cannot violate –

Though in silence mouth to mouth be soldered

And passionate devotion cleave the heart.

 

Here friendship, too, is powerless, and years

Of that sublime and fiery happiness

When the free soul has broken clear

From the slow languor of voluptuousness.

 

Those striving towards it are demented, and

If the line seem close enough to broach –

Stricken with sadness… Now you understand

Why my heart does not beat beneath your touch.

 

– by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova) (May 1915, St Petersburg)

– from Белая стая (White Flock, 1917) translation by D. M. Thomas

‘Blue Heaven, But The High…’ by Anna Akhmatova

Blue heaven, but the high

Catholic domes are more blue.

Forgive me, happy boy,

The death I brought you.

 

For the roses from the stall,

For the foolish letters you sent,

That your dark and impudent

Face grew pale.

 

I thought, a cadet’s pride

At becoming adult.

I thought, objects of the cult

Aren’t loved like brides.

 

But it happens to be real.

Into the freezing days,

Already listless, you follow me

Everywhere and always.

 

As though you wanted to see

Court-evidence

I didn’t love you. Forgive me!

Vowed yourself to martyrdom.

 

And death held out his hand to you…

But why? Why did ou take it?

I didn’t know how frail the naked

Throat under the high blue

 

Collar. Happy boy… tortured

Owlet… Forgive me.

I find it hard today

To leave the church.

 

– by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova) (1913, November)

– from Четки (Rosary, 1914), translation by D. M. Thomas