Poetry Friday: 1921 (part 4)

In this, what I sincerely hope and expect is the last installment of the 1921 version of Poetry Friday, I draw from one of Russia’s greatest poets, Anna Akhmatova, who published her collection entitled Podorozhnik (which is translated Plantain, as I understand it) in Russian in 1921, very shortly after the Russian Revolution had successfully completed its struggle with the “White Russians” for the country.  Incidentally, I really would encourage folks to comment, even with very simple reactions to the poem—I know the standing reason why there are few comments on my other posts is (very reasonably) because you haven’t read the book.  But that’s why I’m trying this PF tradition, since on Poetry Friday, we can all read the piece and comment on it.  The following poem goes by at least two different names, as far as I can tell, but in this translation by Judith Hemschemeyer, she entitles it “Winter 1919”:

Has this century been worse
Than the ages that went before?
Perhaps in this, that in a daze of grief and anguish
It touched, but could not cure, the vilest sore.
In the west the earthly sun is still shining,
And the roofs of the cities gleam in its rays,
But here the white one already chalks crosses on the houses
And summons the crows, and the crows come flying…

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2 comments on “Poetry Friday: 1921 (part 4)

  1. Lindsey says:

    I like Akhmatova, I memorized one of her poems for a final in your class.

    • jwrosenzweig says:

      I like her too, though I’m used to her poetry about love. This is definitely a more somber poem about…what, humans being incapable of preventing violence? I feel like I’m missing some critical context that would make it more deep.

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