1889 – 1966
The poem below takes on vast meaning when it’s known how much suffering and betrayal stalked this woman’s life. She was praised by other writers and poets but condemned by her government.
Why do the people who suffer so tragically have such power to inspire us to rise above suffering?
What is it about the human soul that makes it shine like gold when the fire is hottest?
Everything is plundered, betrayed, sold,
Death’s great black wing scrapes the air,
Misery gnaws to the bone.
Why then do we not despair?
By day, from the surrounding woods,
cherries blow summer into town;
at night the deep transparent skies
glitter with new galaxies.
And the miraculous comes so close
to the ruined, dirty houses –
something not known to anyone at all,
but wild in our breast for centuries.
By: Anna Akhmatova
tr. by Stanley Kunitz with Max Hayward