Friday, December 9, 2011

I'm ready for the hard crust...




Along the hard crust of deep snows,
To the secret, white house of yours,
So gentle and quiet – we both
Are walking, in silence half-lost.
And sweeter than all songs, sung ever,
Are this dream, becoming the truth,
Entwined twigs’ a-nodding with favor,
The light ring of your silver spurs...  

Along the Hard Crust 
Anna Akhmatova, 1917
(translated by Yevgeny Bonver, 2002)


I've been in a bit of a Russian mode on my Facebook wall this week. It must be because the cold weather finally arrived in Central Ohio, and I wore my furry Zhivago hat, for the first time this season.  We had a few flurries, but they didn't really count as a first snow, which I always look forward to with much anticipation.

The Russian poet Anna Akhmatova also came to mind.  Her writing was banned, unofficially, from 1925 to 1940, and then again after the end of  WWII.  Unlike many of her literary contemporaries, she never considered flight into exile.  Persecuted by the Stalinist government, she was prevented from publishing, regarded as a dangerous enemy, but at the same time so popular, even Stalin would not risk attacking her directly. 

I love this portrait of Akhmatova by Russian cubist painter, Nathan Altman.

20 comments:

  1. I've read the poem and looked at this painting for a while now. I would like to have seen, met or said something to her.

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  2. Yes, I like that painting too. It has total honesty about it. My late Father-in-Law had to deal with Stalin during WW2; not an easy man. He often tried to help the oppressed, maybe AA's name was even mentioned; who knows. Stalin rarely relented.

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  3. Lovely poem... fabulous painting! Was drawn to her instantly. Happy holidays, Willow!

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  4. Again, another new find for me. I love the poetic combination of words and image here. Thank you oh, great teacher.

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  5. A gorgeous painting, yes, and a lovely bit of Anna's fabulous poetry. Your snow will come, Tess, and you will love it all the more for the building anticipation. Loved the pic of you in the Zhivago hat...in case I hadn't mentioned that...several times. :-)

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  6. Thanks for introducing this writer to me. The portrait is very striking and the words very profound.
    QMM

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  7. I came across some of her poems, reproduced online, fairly recently, and I'm particularly fond of 'Memory of Sun'.

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  8. I'm not familiar with this writer but I intend to look her up. Interesting painting. Russia might have replaced Paris as the center of modern art had Lenin not outlawed the great work being done in Russia at the turn of the last century.

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  9. A writer whose work I really cherish, and yes, a wonderful portrait.

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  10. Beautiful poem and portrait!

    May you get all the snow you wish for, soon! :-)

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  11. Opening your blog today made me gasp with pleasure. The whole thing: the painting, the black and white, the poetry. Just gorgeous in every way --

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  12. Mmmm...I love this portrait.

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  13. How wonderful - a translation that conveys the feeling that I imagine (not speaking Russian) animated the original text.

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  14. What a lovely post, Tess. It truly made my morning brighter! Thank you.

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  15. Willow...great painting and delicious poem..I love all things Russian and travelling ever eastwards. Daughter "Natasha" due to war and peace!

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  16. love the painting and excerpt. have read some of her life and works. brave woman

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  17. Fascinating Woman! I'll have to do some digging, I remember one of her poems called "The Guest" for some reason or other.
    Cheers Tess!

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  18. I love that painting. Your snow is probably holed up in Ecuador or something. Nobody's getting what they're used to. We've had sunshine in Oregon for days and it's making me nervous.

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Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence.
― O. Henry (and me)