O Muse of Weeping…
– M. Tsvetaeva
I have turned aside from everything,
From the whole earthly store.
The spirit and guardian of this place
is an old tree-stump in water.
We are brief guests of the earth, as it were,
And life is a habit we put on.
On paths of air I seem to overhear
Two friendly voices, talking in turn.
Did I say two? … There
By the east wall’s tangle of raspberry,
Is a branch of elder, dark and fresh.
Why! It’s a letter from Marina.
by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova)
(1961, in delirium)
from Седьмая книга (The Seventh Book)
translation by D. M. Thomas
In later Soviet editions of her works this poem is entitled ‘Komarovo Sketches‘. She spent a lot of time in her last years at Komarovo, fifty miles from Leningrad (St Petersburg), on the Karelian isthmus and is buried there.
The three poets referred to are Pasternak, Mandelstam and Tsvetaeva alongside Akhmatova herself.
The epigaph is from a poem addressed to Akhmatova in 1916.