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Anna Akhmatova

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poetry (11) russia (6)
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Synopsis|Table of Contents

Synopsis

A legend in her own time both for her brilliant poetry and for her resistance to oppression, Anna Akhmatova—denounced by the Soviet regime for her “eroticism, mysticism, and political indifference”—is one of the greatest Russian poets of the twentieth century.

Before the revolution, Akhmatova was a wildly popular young poet who lived a bohemian life. She was one of the leaders of a movement of poets whose ideal was “beautiful clarity”—in her deeply personal work, themes of love and mourning are conveyed with passionate intensity and economy, her voice by turns tender and fierce. A vocal critic of Stalinism, she saw her work banned for many years and was expelled from the Writers’ Union—condemned as “half nun, half harlot.” Despite this censorship, her reputation continued to flourish underground, and she is still among Russia’s most beloved poets.

Here are poems from all her major works—including the magnificent “Requiem” commemorating the victims of Stalin’s terror—and some that have been newly translated for this edition.

Table of Contents

From EVENING
‘The pillow hot . . .’
Reading Hamlet
Evening Room
‘I have written down the words . . .’
‘I share my room . . .’
‘Memory of sun seeps from the heart . . .’
‘The door is half open . . .’
‘High in the sky . . .’
Song of the Last Meeting
Love
‘He loved three things alone . . .’
Imitation of Annensky
‘I came here in idleness . . .’
White Night
Legend on an Unfinished Portrait

From ROSARY
‘I have come to take your place, sister . . .’
‘It goes on without end . . .’
‘We’re all drunkards here . . .’
A Ride
‘Nobody came to meet me . . .’
‘So many requests . . .’
The Voice of Memory
8 November 1913
‘Blue heaven, but the high . . .’
‘Do you forgive me . . .’
The Guest
‘I won’t beg for your love . . .’
‘I came to him as a guest . . .’

BY THE SEASHORE

From WHITE FLOCK
‘Empty white Christmastide . . .’
Loneliness
‘How can you look at the Neva . . .’
‘The road is black . . .’
Flight
‘I don’t know if you’re alive or dead . . .’
‘There is a frontier-line . . .’
‘Freshness of words . . .’
‘Under an empty dwelling’s frozen roof . . .’
‘The churchyard’s quiet . . .’
‘Neither by cart nor boat . . .’
‘Lying in me . . .’
Statue in Tsarskoye Selo
‘O there are words . . .’

From PLANTAIN
‘Fame is like smoke . . .’
‘I shouldn’t be dreaming . . .’
‘Now farewell, capital . . .’
‘I hear the oriole’s always grieving voice . . .’
‘Now no-one will be listening to songs . . .’
‘The cuckoo I asked . . .’
‘Why is our century worse than any other? . . .’

From ANNO DOMINI
‘You’re like a strange . . .’
‘Everything is looted . . .’
‘Oh, life without . . .’
‘They wiped your slate . . .’
Bezhetsk
‘To earthly solace . . .’
‘I’m not of those who left . . .’
‘Blows the swan wind . . .’
‘To fall ill as one should . . .’
‘Behind the lake . . .’
Rachel
Lot’s Wife

From REED
Muse
To an Artist
The Last Toast
*‘Dust smells of a sun-ray . . .’
‘Some gaze into tender faces . . .’
Boris Pasternak
Voronezh
*Imitation from the Armenian
Dante
Cleopatra
Willow
*In Memory of Mikhail Bulgakov
‘When a man dies . . .’
*‘Not the lyre of a lover . . .’
Way of All the Earth

From THE SEVENTH BOOK
In 1940
‘Some walk in a straight line . . .’
*‘No matter that death . . .’
Courage
‘And you, my friends . . .’
*‘That’s how I am . . .’
Three Autumns
‘The souls of those I love . . .’
‘The fifth act of the drama . . .’
‘It is your lynx eyes, Asia . . .’
In Dream
‘Once more an autumn . . .’
*The Glass Doorbell
‘And that heart . . .’
‘So again we triumph! . . .’
‘Let any, who will, still bask in the south . . .’
Music

From Northern Elegies
The First
The Fifth
The Sixth
Seaside Sonnet
Fragment
Summer Garden
‘In black memory . . .’
‘Could Beatrice write . . .’
Death of a Poet
The Death of Sophocles
Alexander at Thebes
Native Soil
There are Four of Us
*‘If all who have begged help . . .’
Last Rose
*‘Reviled and acclaimed . . .’
‘This land . . .’
*‘It is no wonder . . .’
‘What’s war? What’s plague? . . .’
In Memory of V. C. Sreznevskaya
Christmastime (24 December)
‘You will hear thunder and remember me . . .’

REQUIEM

POEM WITHOUT A HERO


Notes
Translator’s Acknowledgments


*Poems not published in the collection but written in the same epoch.
Anna Akhmatova|Peter Washington

About Anna Akhmatova

Anna Akhmatova - Anna Akhmatova
Anna Akhmatova was born Anna Gorenko in 1888 and died in 1966. A popular poet of the Acmeist school, she took a pseudonym when her upper-class father objected to her "decadent" choice of career. She was married to the Acmeist poet Gumilev from 1910 until 1918, and spent time in Paris, where she posed nude for Modigliani. After the Revolution, Akhmatova remained silent for two decades. Her ex-husband was executed in 1921, their son was imprisoned for sixteen years, and her third husband died in a Siberian prison camp. She began publishing again at the outbreak of World War II, and her writings regained popularity despite being harshly denounced by the Soviet regime in 1946 and 1957 for "bourgeois decadence." Ejected from the Writers' Union in 1946, she was made its president two years before her death in 1966. Her greatest poem, "Requiem," gives voice to the suffering of those who, like the poet, spent many years waiting outside prison walls for word of their sons, husbands, or lovers. It was not published in its entirety in Russia until 1987.

About Peter Washington

Peter Washington - Anna Akhmatova
Peter Washington is the editor of many of the Everyman's Library Pocket Poets, including Love Poems, and is the author of Madame Blavatsky's Baboon: A History of the Mystics, Mediums, and Misfits Who Brought Spiritualism to America.   

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