For O. A. Kuzmin-Karavaev
‘If we could only reach the shore,
My dear!’ – ‘Sh! Be quiet!’…
And we started down the stairs,
Hardly breathing, searching for keys.
Past the house where we had once
Danced and drunk wine,
Past the Senate’s white columns
To where it was dark, dark.
‘What are you doing? You’re mad!’ –
‘Not mad. In love with you!
This wind is wide and billowing,
Gaily it will take the ship!
Throat tight with horror,
The canoe took us in the gloom…
The tang of an ocean cable
Burnt my trembling nostrils.
‘Tell me – if you know youself:
Am I asleep? Is this a dream? …’
Only the oars splashed evenly
Along the heavy Neva wave.
But the black sky grew lighter,
Someone called to us from a bridge.
With both hands I seized the chain
Of the cross on my breast.
Powerless, I was lifted in your arms
Like a young girl on to the deck
Of the white yacht, to meet the light
Of incorruptible day.
– by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova) (Summer, 1914)
– from Белая стая (White Flock, 1917) translation by D. M. Thomas