Anna Akhmatova (1890-1966)

  1. To The Muse

Poem, 1924, 0'41"
Voice – Anna Akhmatova
Recording – ca. 1963-65

Anna Akhmatova, real name Anna Andreevna Gorenko (b. Bolshoy Fontan in Odessa 1889 - d. Moscow 1966), is one of the most representative poets of the Silver Age of Russian literature. In her early years she was linked to the artistic world of the avant-garde in St. Petersburg, where she formed part of the literary movement known as Acmeism (1912), promoted by Nikolai Gumilev, her first husband, and Osip Mandelshtam, who wanted to break with the metaphoric nature of symbolism and re-establish the semantic value of words. After the Revolution, her poems were banned and she was accused of treason and deported. She returned to St. Petersburg in 1944 where she was obliged to earn her living translating Leopardi and publishing essays. Many of her relatives and friends were executed, repressed or forced to emigrate.

To the Muse

When, in the night, I wait for her, impatient,
Life seems to me, as hanging by a thread.
What just means liberty, or youth, or approbation,
When compared with the gentle piper's tread?

And she came in, threw out the mantle's edges,
Declined to me with a sincere heed.
I say to her, "Did you dictate the Pages
Of Hell to Dante?" She answers, "Yes, I did."

[Translated by Yevgeny Bonver]


Anna Akhmatova in UbuWeb Film
Russian Futurists from the GLM Collection (1920-1959)
Sound Experiments in The Russian Avant-Garde (1908-1942)