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Spiritual Poetry

Anna Akhmatova Poems

 

I Taught Myself to Live Simply

I taught myself to live simply and wisely,
to look at the sky and pray to God,
and to wander long before evening
to tire my superfluous worries.
When the burdocks rustle in the ravine
and the yellow-red rowanberry cluster droops
I compose happy verses
about life's decay, decay and beauty.
I come back. The fluffy cat
licks my palm, purrs so sweetly
and the fire flares bright
on the saw-mill turret by the lake.
Only the cry of a stork landing on the roof
occasionally breaks the silence.
If you knock on my door
I may not even hear.

~Anna Akhmatova


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Twenty-First. Night. Monday

Twenty-first. Night. Monday.
Silhouette of the capitol in darkness.
Some good-for-nothing -- who knows why--
made up the tale that love exists on earth.

People believe it, maybe from laziness
or boredom, and live accordingly:
they wait eagerly for meetings, fear parting,
and when they sing, they sing about love.

But the secret reveals itself to some,
and on them silence settles down...
I found this out by accident
and now it seems I'm sick all the time.
~Anna Akhmatova


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Solitude

So many stones have been thrown at me,
That I'm not frightened of them anymore,
And the pit has become a solid tower,
Tall among tall towers.
I thank the builders,
May care and sadness pass them by.
From here I'll see the sunrise earlier,
Here the sun's last ray rejoices.
And into the windows of my room
The northern breezes often fly.
And from my hand a dove eats grains of wheat...
As for my unfinished page,
The Muse's tawny hand, divinely calm
And delicate, will finish it.

June 6, 1914, Slepnyovo

~Anna Akhmatova


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Sunbeam

I pray to the sunbeam from the window -
It is pale, thin, straight.
Since morning I have been silent,
And my heart - is split.
The copper on my washstand
Has turned green,
But the sunbeam plays on it
So charmingly.
How innocent it is, and simple,
In the evening calm,
But to me in this deserted temple
It's like a golden celebration,
And a consolation.


~Anna Akhmatova


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Under Her Dark Veil

Under her dark veil she wrung her hands.
"Why are you so pale today?"
"Because I made him drink of stinging grief
Until he got drunk on it.

How can I forget? He staggered out,
His mouth twisted in agony.
I ran down not touching the bannister

And caught up with him at the gate.
I cried: 'A joke!
That's all it was. If you leave, I'll die.'
He smiled calmly and grimly
And told me: 'Don't stand here in the wind.' "

January 8, 1911
Kiev


~Anna Akhmatova


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How can you bear to look at the Neva?

How can you bear to look at the Neva?
How can you bear to cross the bridges?.
Not in vain am I known as the grieving one
Since the time you appeared to me.
The black angels' wings are sharp,
Judgment Day is coming soon,
And raspberry-colored bonfires bloom,
Like roses, in the snow.

1914
~Anna Akhmatova


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I hear the oriole's always-grieving voice

I hear the oriole's always-grieving voice,
And the rich summer's welcome loss I hear
In the sickle's serpentine hiss
Cutting the corn's ear tightly pressed to ear.

And the short skirts of the slim reapers
Fly in the wind like holiday pennants,
The clash of joyful cymbals, and creeping
From under dusty lashes, the long glance.

I don't expect love's tender flatteries,
In premonition of some dark event,
But come, come and see this paradise
Where together we were blessed and innocent.

1917 Summer
~Anna Akhmatova


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I don't know if you're alive or dead...

I don't know if you're alive or dead.
Can you on earth be sought,
Or only when the sunsets fade
Be mourned serenely in my thought?

All is for you: the daily prayer,
The sleepless heat at night,
And of my verses, the white
Flock, and of my eyes, the blue fire.

No-one was more cherished, no-one tortured
Me more, not
Even the one who betrayed me to torture,
Not even the one who caressed me and forgot.

1915
~Anna Akhmatova


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Willow

And I grew up in patterned tranquillity,
In the cool nursery of the young century.
And the voice of man was not dear to me,
But the voice of the wind I could understand.
But best of all the silver willow.
And obligingly, it lived
With me all my life; it's weeping branches
Fanned my insomnia with dreams.
And strange!--I outlived it.
There the stump stands; with strange voices
Other willows are conversing
Under our, under those skies.
And I am silent...As if a brother had died.

January 18, 1940
~Anna Akhmatova
Translated by Judith Hemschemeyer


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You will hear thunder...

You will hear thunder and remember me,
And think: she wanted storms. The rim
Of the sky will be the colour of hard crimson,
And your heart, as it was then, will be on fire.

That day in Moscow, it will all come true,
when, for the last time, I take my leave,
And hasten to the heights that I have longed for,
Leaving my shadow still to be with you.

~Anna Akhmatova


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Lying in me

Lying in me, as though it were a white
Stone in the depths of a well, is one
Memory that I cannot, will not, fight:
It is happiness, and it is pain.

Anyone looking straight into my eyes
Could not help seeing it, and could not fail
To become thoughtful, more sad and quiet
Than if he were listening to some tragic tale.

I know the gods changed people into things,
Leaving their consciousness alive and free.
To keep alive the wonder of suffering,
You have been metamorphosed into me.

~Anna Akhmatova


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White Night

I haven't locked the door,
Nor lit the candles,
You don't know, don't care,
That tired I haven't the strength

To decide to go to bed.
Seeing the fields fade in
The sunset murk of pine-needles,
And to know all is lost,

That life is a cursed hell:
I've got drunk
On your voice in the doorway.
I was sure you'd come back.

~Anna Akhmatova


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Departure

Although this land is not my own,
I will remember its inland sea
and the waters that are so cold

the sand as white
as old bones, the pine trees
strangely red where the sun comes down.

I cannot say if it is our love,
or the day, that is ending.

~Anna Akhmatova


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Crucifix

Do not cry for me, Mother, seeing me in the grave.

I

This greatest hour was hallowed and thandered
By angel's choirs; fire melted sky.
He asked his Father:"Why am I abandoned...?"
And told his Mother: "Mother, do not cry..."

II

Magdalena struggled, cried and moaned.
Peter sank into the stone trance...
Only there, where Mother stood alone,
None has dared cast a single glance.

~Anna Akhmatova
Translated by Tanya Karshtedt


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For Anna Akhmatova

February 1986, on the twentieth anniversary of her death

You, who sang so many poets
and the death of cities and the young century,
your songs have kept us awake when
we should have died.

And may i now living, listen in your release
of the mute screams of a hundred mothers,
waiting before the prison wall,
their lips gone 'blue with cold.'

What is it to endure just one winter,
the childhood willow choked in ice,
the Neva rolling on alone,
or night that teases you, but never comes?

What, to endure your own beauty?
The clap of tall black boots, not dancing naked
feet on the stairs? Your heart beating for a word?
Oh, but the long , dark cloud

--it passes. This day is reborn in your arms!
And sometime, I'll wear your profile,
like a reticent god, where trembling
you translate a different star!

~elaine maria upton
1986 (Boston, Massachusetts)-1999 (Hyde Park, New York)


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