“Verdict,” from REQUIEM (1935-1940)

By Anna Akhmatova (tr. Genevieve Arlie)



The stony word crashed down then
On my still-beating chest.
It’s nothing, really, I was prepared,
I’ll level with this somehow
I’ve much to do today:
Must butcher memory to its end,
Must somehow petrify the soul,
Must learn to live again.
But not that… Hot rustle of summertime,
As if in celebration at my window.
I’ve long had presentiments of this
Bright day, and this deserted house.

1939. Summer



И упало каменное слово
На мою еще живую грудь.
Ничего, ведь я была готова,
Справлюсь с этим как-нибудь.
У меня сегодня много дела:

Надо память до конца убить,
Надо, чтоб душа окаменела,
Надо снова научиться жить.
А не то… Горячий шелест лета,
Словно праздник за моим окном.
Я давно предчувствовала этот
Светлый день и опустелый дом.

1939. Лето

High GroundGenevieve Arlie, after years of bicoastal living, decided to split the difference and move to Iowa, where she studies literary translation.

Acmeist poet Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966) was one of the foremost figures of Russian Modernism, best known for her short lyric verse until her commemorative critique of Stalinist Terror, the cycle Requiem, was published to great acclaim after Stalin’s death in 1953.

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