Anna Akhmatova: Translated By Don Mager

petrov-vodkin-akhmatovaBIO – Anna Akhmatova (1889-1961)

Akhmatova’s early Acmeist poems were sensationally popular during the teens and 20s of the twentieth century. After the Bolshevik revolution her personal life and public career went from crisis to crisis. She was effectively barred from publishing. She continued to write “for the bottom of her chest” as she said. Her third husband and adult son were imprisoned and sent to Siberia during the Stalinist purges of the 1930s. Her great poem “Requiem” reflects this experience. It circulated among friends and later in samizdat, but was not published in the Soviet Union until the “thaw” in the 1950s. This was followed by a second long political poem “The Way of All the World.” In 1942 she began her long masterpiece Poem Without a Hero, which occupied her for much of the rest of her life. After Stalin’s death, she was gradually rehabilitated and her work was again widely published in the Soviet Union. In 1998 Ellis Lak Publishers began a comprehensive collected edition of her works including, drafts, sketches and variant. The eighth and final volume came out in 2005. It supersedes all previous editions both in the West and in Russia.


Don Mager
BIO

Don Mager’s chapbooks and volumes of poetry are: To Track the Wounded One, Glosses, That Which is Owed to Death, Borderings, Good Turns, The Elegance of the Ungraspable, Birth Daybook, Drive Time and Russian Riffs. He is retired with degrees from Drake University (BA), Syracuse University (MA) and Wayne State University (PhD). He was the Mott University Professor of English at Johnson C. Smith University from 1998-2004 where he served as Dean of the College of Arts and Letters (2005-2011). As well as a number of scholarly articles, he has published over 200 poems and translations from German, Czech and Russian. He lives in Charlotte, NC.

Us Four Plus Four is an anthology of translations from eight major Soviet-era Russian poets. It is unique because it tracks almost a half century of their careers by simply placing the poems each wrote to the others in chronological order. The 85 poems represent one of the most fascinating conversations in poems produced by any group of poets in any language or time period. From poems and infatuation and admiration to anger and grief and finally to deep tribute, this anthology invites readers into the unfolding lives of such inimitable creative forces as Anna Akhmatova, Boris Pasternak, Marina Tsvetaeva and Osip Mandelstam.

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«В сорокоаом году»

АВГУСТ 1940

То граж твой, Юлиан!
Вяч. Иванов
Когда погребают эпоху,
Надгробный псалом не звучит,
Крапиве, чертополоху
Украсить ее предстоит,
И только могильщики лихо
Работают. Дело не ждет!
И тихо, так, Господи, тихо,
Что слышно, как время идет.
А после она выплывает,
Как труп на вессенней реке,—
Но матери сын не узнает,
И внук отвернется в тоске.
И клонятся головы ниже,
Как маятник, ходит луна.

Так вот—над погибшим Парижем
Такая теперь тншина.

5 августа 1940
Ленанград, Шереметевский дом

Ахматова, Анна Андреевна. Сование Сочнеий В Шести Томах. [Akhmatova, Anna Andreevna. Complete Works in Six Volumes.] Ed. T. A. Gorkova. Moscow: Ellis-Lak
[Эллис Лак], 1998-2005:.1, 481.

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[In The Fortieth Year]

AUGUST 1940

Hail, Julian!

Vych. Ivanov2
As they lay to rest this epoch,
Psalms and threnodies do not sound,
What is in store for it are only
Snatched up nettles and thistles,
And only the gravediggers show zeal
For their labor. Work to do!
And silently, O God, how silently,
Time as it passes can just be heard,
Later to drift away, like a corpse
On a spring-thaw river,—
But the son does not know his mother,
And the grandson turns back in anguish.
And heads bend down.
The moon moves like a pendulum.

So it is—just such a silence
Settles over ruined Paris.

5 August 1940
Leningrad, Sheremetev house.

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ЛОНДОНЦАМ

И сделалсь война на небе.
Апок< алипсис>
Двадцать четвертую драму Шекспира
Пишет время бесстрасной рукой.
Сами участники грозного пира,
Лучше мы Гамлета, Цезарй, Лира
Будем читать над свинцовой рекой;
Лучше сегодня голубку Джульетту
С пеньем и факелом в гроб провожать,
Лучше заглядывать в окна к Макбету,
Вместе с наемным убийцей дрожать,—
Только не эту, не эту, не эту,
Эту уже мы не в силах читать!

Август < ?> — <29 сентября> 1940

Ахматова, Анна Андреевна. Сование Сочнеий В Шести Томах. [Akhmatova, Anna Andreevna. Complete Works in Six Volumes.] Ed. T. A. Gorkova. Moscow: Ellis-Lak [Эллис Лак], 1998-2005:.1, 484.

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To Londoners

And made war with the heavens. Apocalypse
With implacable hand, time is writing
Shakespeare’s twenty-fourth drama.2
We who share the formidable feast
Would gladly read Hamlet, Caesar, Lear
As we cross over the leaden river;3
Gladly accompany Juliet’s sweet bier,
Today, with singing and torches,
Gladly peek through the window at Macbeth
Trembling among the hired murderers—
Only not this, not this, not this,
This we have no strength to read!

August ?—29 September 1940

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ТЕНЬ

Что знает женщина одна о смертном часе?
О. Манделыштам

Всегда нарядней всех, всех розовей и выше,
Зачем всплываешь ты со дна погибших лет
И память хищная передо мной колышет
Прозрачный профиль твой за стеклами карет?
Как спорили тогда—ты ангел или птица?
Соломинкой тебя назвал поэт.
Равно на всех сквозь черные ресницы
Дарьяльских глаз струился нежный свет.
О тень! Прости меня, но ясная погода,
Флобер, бессонница и поздняя сирень
Тебя—красавицу тринадцатого года—
И твой безоблачный и равнодушный день
Напоминли . . . А мне такого рода
Воспоминанья не к лицу. О тень!

9 августа 1940. Вечер

Ахматова, Анна Андреевна. Сование Сочнеий В Шести Томах. [Akhmatova, Anna Andreevna. Complete Works in Six Volumes.] Ed. T. A. Gorkova. Moscow: Ellis-Lak [Эллис Лак], 1998-2005:.1, 482.

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Shade

What does a woman alone know about mortal time?
O. Mandelstam

Ever the best dressed of all, of all the rosiest and tallest,
Why do you rise up from the depth of murderous years?
And why does memory wave at me ravishingly
With your transparent profile from a carriage window?
How we would bicker—were you angel or bird?
The poet dubbed you “the straw
Through the dark lashes and Daryal2 eyes
A beneficent light fell equally upon all.
O shade! Forgive me, but the clear weather,
Flaubert, insomnia and belated lilacs
Remind me of you—beauty of the thirteenth year—
Of you—and of your cloudless and
Unsettled day . . . Memory of such a face
Does not suit my genius now. O Shade!

9 August 1940. Evening.

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Уж я ль не знала бессонницы
Все пропасти и тропы,
Но эта как топот конницы
Под вой одичалой трубы.
Вхожу в дома опустелые,
В недавний чей-то уют.
Все тихо, лишь тени белые
В чужих зеркалах плывут.
И что там в тумане—Дания,
Нормандия, или тут
Сама я бывала ранее,
И это—переиздание
Навек забытых минут?

1940

Ахматова, Анна Андреевна. Сование Сочнеий В Шести Томах. [Akhmatova, Anna Andreevna. Complete Works in Six Volumes.] Ed.

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I thought I already knew about insomnia,
All its abysses and trails,
But this is like clattering horses
Under a trumpet’s wild shriek.
I step foot into empty houses,
Into someone else’s domestic life.
All is still except for the white shades
Afloat in foreign mirrors.1
And where is that in the mist—Denmark,
Normandy, or somewhere
I myself once was,
And what is this—a new edition
Of moments long since forgotten?

1940

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Но я предупреждаю вас,
Что я живу в последний раз.
Ни ласточкой, ни кленом,
Ни тростником и ни звкздой,
Ни родниковою водой,
Ин колокольным звоном—
Не буду я людей смущать
И сны чужие навещать
Неутоленным стоном.

<7 ноября> 1940

Ахматова, Анна Андреевна. Сование Сочнеий В Шести Томах. [Akhmatova, Anna Andreevna. Complete Works in Six Volumes.] Ed. T. A. Gorkova. Moscow: Ellis-Lak [Эллис Лак], 1998-2005:.1, 488.

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But I warn you
That I am alive for the last time.
Neither as sparrow, nor maple.
Nor reed, nor star,
Nor spring water,
Nor bells in a tower—
I will not embarrass people
By visiting in strange dreams
With unquenchable moans.

<7 November 1940>

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