Everyone left and no one returnedAnna Akhmatova
Only, true to the promise of love,
My latest, at least you looked back
To see the whole sky in blood.
The house was cursed, and cursed was my trade;
Uselessly, a tender song rang out
And I didn’t dare raise my eyes
To my terrible fate.
They defiled the immaculate Word,
They trampled the sacred utterance,
So that with the sicknurses of Thirty-seven
I could mop the bloody floor.
They separated me from my only son,
They tortured my friends in prisons,
They surrounded me with an invisible Stockade
Of well-coordinated shadowing.
They rewarded me with muteness
That curses the whole cursed world,
They force-fed me with scandal,
They made me drink poison.
And taking me to the very edge,
For some reason they left me there.
I would rather, as one of the city’s ‘crazies,’
Be wandering through the dying squares.
Such were the sad words of Anna Akhmatova, with her references to ’37 (the Stalin purges), describing her own “terrible fate,” to suffer without being killed herself, to see the “whole sky in blood,” to witness the Stalin regime’s many crimes, taking her to the very edge. And here we are again. The real abomination is that almost nobody sees. They refuse to look. Militantly, self-righteously, with scorn for those of us who can see. Who see through the eyes of Akhmatova.
Here is a discussion I had with Trevor Loudon nine days ago about Ukraine and communism:
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The translation of Akhmatova was from Judith Hemschemeyer’s extraordinary translation, The Complete Poems of Anna Akhmatova (Expanded Edition (Boston: Canongate Books, 1997), p. 699.