Борис Пастернак [Boris Pasternak] by Anna Akhmatova

He who compared himself to the eye of a horse,

Peers, looks, sees, recognizes,

And instantly puddles shine, ice

Pines away, like a melting of diamonds.


Backyards drowse in lilac haze. Branch-

Line platforms, logs, clouds, leaves…

The engine’s whistle, watermelon’s crunch,

A timid hand in a fragrant kid glove. He’s


Ringing, thundering, grinding, up to his breast

In breakers… and suddenly is quiet… This means

He is tiptoeing over pine needles, feaful lest

He should startle space awake from its light sleep.


It means he counts the grains in the empty ears,

And it means he has come back

From another funeral, back to Darya’s

Gorge, the tombstone, cursed and black.


And burns again, the Moscow tedium,

In the distance death’s sleigh-bell rings…

Who has got lost two steps from home,

Where the snow is waist-deep, an end to everything?


Because he compared smoke with Laocoön,

Made songs out of graveyard thistles,

Because he filled the world with a sound no-one

Has heard before, in a new space of mirrored


Verses, he has been rewarded with a form

Of eternal childhood, with the stars’ vigilant love,

The whole earth has been passed down to him,

And he has shared it with everyone.


by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova)

(19 January 1936)

from Тростник (Reed) / Из шести книг (From the Sixth Book)

translation by D. M. Thomas