by Anna Akhmatova*
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.
*If I were to name the greatest poets in the world, at the top of the list I would put Anna Akhmatova. I first read her poem Requiem (which made me cry) in an anthology of women’s poetry in the 8th grade…my mom was working on her master’s degree, and I would wander the library at the university while she did research.
Anna Akhmatova chose to remain in Russia when many of her contemporaries were leaving, standing witness to the atrocitites of the Soviet regime. Her poetry is a reflection of that time…the good and the bad, the simple and the simply tragic. This poem, is among my favorites of hers. And I think, perfect for this time of the year’s first waning.