Sunday, June 23, 2013

in honor of Akhmatova

My friend Sofiya Yuzefpolskaya-Tsilosani  (poet, scholar, translator) posted on Facebook what's below. She gave me permission to share it here, which I appreciate.

When Akhmatova died in 1966, Arseny Tarkovsky participated in her memorial ceremony in St. Petersburg and attended her burial in a small cemetery at Komarovo. He spent much of the following year composing a cycle of six lyric poems, In Memory of A. A. Akhmatova.

Here are two poems from that cycle:


Homeward, homeward, homeward,
Under Komarovo’s pines …
O mortal, fatal angel mine
With wreaths to crown your head,
In a crocheted shawl
With wings in readiness!

As for trees the snow,
So for the earth your open ark
Was not a heavy burden,
Sailing in front of everyone
Into your twenty-first century,
From out of time into time.

Overhead the winter
Carried a final ray,
Like the first flap of a wing
Out from under a Karelian fir,
And nighttime lit the stars
Above the snowy blue.

And we the whole night through
Promised immortality to you,
And begged you to help us
Leave the house of sadness,
All night, all night, all night.
And night’s again at its beginning.


And I accompanied this shade and saw it off
On its final road—to the final threshold.
And the two wings on the shadow’s back,
Like two rays, little by little went dark.

And a year went by in a circle to the side,
And now winter blares from the forest cutting,
The micaceous confusion of Karelian firs
Responds to the hunting-horn out of tune.

What if our memory, from earthly laws immune,
Has no strength to renew the day within the night?
What if her shade, having left the world,
Does not drink immortality in the word?
Heart, be silent,
Don’t tell lies, gulp another sip of blood,
Give thanks and benediction to the first rays of the sun.

Written between January 1967 and August 1968; translated from the Russian by Sofiya Yuzefpolskaya and George Rueckert, and published in their article, ‘No Empty Game: The Immortality of the Poet in Arseny Tarkovsky’s Memorial Poems to N. A. Zabolotsky and A. A. Akhmatova,’ published in the Slavic and East European Journal, Vol. 50, No. 2, 2006.

1889 - 1966

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