Our grandad’s outlandish dream,
the prison years of our heroes,
our hope and our heartfelt lament,
our prayer we hardly dared utter –
by Зинаида Николаевна Гиппиус (Zinaida Nikolayevna Gippius)
(12 November 1917)
translated by Robert Chandler
Surely the young king must have been blind to pity
As he spoke the order: ‘Destroy Thebes utterly.’
The old general gazed, and knew this place to be
No better than he remembered it, a haughty city.
Put it all to the fire! There were wonders – gate
And tower and temple – everywhere the king searched,
But suddenly his face brightened with a thought:
‘Be sure that the house of the Poet is not touched.’
– by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova), Leningrad, 1961, October
– from Седьмая книга (The Seventh Book)
– translation by D. M. Thomas
I will try to upload Russian poetry, or reviews of things concerning the Russian Revolution and Soviet era, daily during this month as it is the centenary of the 1917 Russian Revolution. I might end up posting one or two other things too.
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