27 October 2013

Three by Akhmatova

by Anna Akhmatova

The three things he loved most in life
Were white peacocks, music at mass,
And tattered maps of America.
He didn't like kids who cried and he
Didn't like raspberry jam with tea
Or womanish hysteria.
. . . And I was, like it or not, his wife.

Broad and yellow is the evening light,
The coolness of April is dear.
You, of course, are several years late,
Even so, I'm happy you're here.

Sit close at hand and look at me,
With those eyes, so cheerful and mild:
This blue notebook is full, you see,
Full of poems I wrote as a child.

Forgive me, forgive me, for having grieved
For ignoring the sunlight, too.
And especially for having believed
That so many others were you.

I hear the oriole's voice, clear and distressed,
I greet the waning of the summer but
One wheat ear against another pressed
The sickles with reptilian hisses cut.

The short hems of the women in the field
Fly in the wind like flags on a holiday.
Now I yearn for the joyful bells that pealed,
His dusty lashes -- And he didn't look away.

I don't expect caresses or words to spare
In expectation of that dark descent,
But do come look at the paradises where
Together we were blissful and innocent.


From Anna Akhmatova, Poems, 1974. Trans., Lyn Coffin.

No comments:

Post a Comment

No Anonymous comments, please.