Sunday, March 15, 2009

Anna Akhmatova, Requiem

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

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