I hear the oriole’s always grieving voice,
And the rich summer’s welcome loss I hear
In the sickle’s serpentine hiss
Cutting the corn’s ear tightly pressed to ear.
And the short skirts on the slim reapers
Fly in the wind like holiday pennants,
The clash of joyful cymbals, and creeping
From under dusty lashes, the long glance.
I don’t expect love’s tender flatteries,
In premonition of some dark event,
But come, come and see this paradise
Where together we were blessed and innocent.
– by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova) (Summer, 1917)
– from Подорожник (Plantain/Wayside Grass, 1921) translation by D. M. Thomas
Now farewell, capital,
Farewell, my spring,
Already I can hear
Fields and kitchen-gardens
Are green and peaceful,
The waters are still deep,
And the skies still pale.
And the marsh rusalka,
Mistress of those parts,
Gazes, sighing, up at
The bell-tower cross.
And the oriole, friend
Of my innocent days,
Has flown back from the south
And cries among the branches
That it’s shameful to stay
Until May in the cities,
To stifle in theatres,
Grow bored on the islands.
But the oriole doesn’t know,
Rusalka won’t understand,
How lovely it is
All the same, right now,
On the day’s quiet slope,
I’m going. God’s land,
Take me to you!
– by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova) (1917)
– from Подорожник (Plantain, 1921) translation by D. M. Thomas