Saturday, 2 April 2016

Anna Akhmatova: 'I asked the cuckoo'


I asked the cuckoo:
How many years will I live? …
The tips of the pine-trees quivered,
A yellow ray shone on the grass.
Yet no sound in the cool grove…
Now I am going home,
And a refreshing breeze
Kisses my burning brow.


From Plantain (1921), tr. A.S. Klein. A time of great suffering for Russia and for Akhmatova, and not the last such time. The animal world is utterly separate from the world of human troubles, and represents an unattainable integrity.