Requiem was a banned cycle of poems written at the time of Stalin's Great Terror, during the endless months she spent waiting outside the St. Petersburg prison for news of her son's fate.
I threw myself at the hangman's feet,
You are my son, my horror.
Everything's mixed up for me forever,
And who is a man and who a beast
Will never now be clear ...
That was when the ones who smiled
Were the dead, glad to be at rest.
And like a useless appendage, Leningrad
Swung from its prisons.
The late Dante would have
created a tenth circle of hell
—Anna Akhmatova, Requiem, 1937
More information: http://www.uvm.edu/~sgutman/Akhmatova.htm