‘They Wiped Your Slate…’ by Anna Akhmatova

They wiped your slate

With snow, you’re not alive.

Bayonets twenty-eight

And bullet-holes five.

It’s a bitter present,

Love, but I’ve sewed it.

Russia, an old peasant

Killing his meat.

 

– by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova) (1921)

– from Anno Domini MCMXXI translation by D. M. Thomas

‘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

I Am by John Clare

I am: yet what I am none cares or knows,
My friends forsake me like a memory lost;
I am the self-consumer of my woes,
They rise and vanish in oblivious host,
Like shades in love and death’s oblivion lost;
And yet I am! and live with shadows tost

Into the nothingness of scorn and noise,
Into the living sea of waking dreams,
Where there is neither sense of life nor joys,
But the vast shipwreck of my life’s esteems;
And e’en the dearest–that I loved the best–
Are strange–nay, rather stranger than the rest.

I long for scenes where man has never trod;
A place where woman never smil’d or wept;
There to abide with my creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept:
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie;
The grass below–above the vaulted sky.

 

by John Clare (1793 – 1864)