I have transitioned to poetry this month. Why I had never heard of Anna Akhmatova before is beyond me. She has all the right words that I needed to hear. Her poetry was stunning and I couldn’t put this book of selected works down. I’m so happy that my curiosity got the best of me when I took this out of the library. It was just what I needed.
To be honest with you, I needed a bit of a break from novels. This month I am participating in NaNoWriMo and all that novel writing leaves very little room for novel reading.
This is the Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets edition. These things are so cute. They have many other poets in these tiny little books with their selected works. If you can get your hands on some, I highly recommend reading.
The categories of her work were split up from different periods and subjects she was writing about. Having this by my bed made sleepless nights much more bearable. I was in love with the poems that had imagery about the fall and autumn months.
Because I read through this, I would really love to get a book about her life. I also had a lot of questions about the translation of the poems from Russian to English, and a lovely librarian answered all of them. There are some editions of her work that are split down the page and have the Russian text on one side with the exact translation on the other. I would be really interesting in reading that. I highly recommend this to anyone who loves poetry that is easy to read but has deep meanings behind them. It was a really beautiful collection of work and I’m overjoyed that I picked up this little book.
“For this gloomy beast within my breast –
A heart. But the thing is,
We’ve all had to learn not to sleep for three years.
In the morning we shall find out
Who has died in the night.”
Because some of the subjects and themes were dated and references historical events, I tried to look things up to follow along. There are tones of Stalinism and suppression in many of the poems. This woman is so creative and talented, and to see her struggle with the revolution in Russia was inspiring.
One last thing that I really liked about this, I didn’t have to think too hard. Some poetry that I’ve read from this era is a headache wrapped in ink. I struggle through some of the sentences and metaphors, but this one was straightforward. And that’s not to say that it doesn’t have depth or symbolism, because it does. But she doesn’t try too hard, she is honest and colorful in her descriptions, and that made it very relatable for me. Check out my Goodreads to see what else I’ve read/reviewed!
One more brilliant quote from this lovely genius:
“Wild honey smells of freedom
The dust – of sunlight
The mouth of a young girl, like a violet
But gold – smells of nothing.”