From Anna Akhmatova with love | Daily News

From Anna Akhmatova with love

Poetry commences with delight and ends in wisdom, said the great American poet Robert Frost in one of his celebrated presentations titled as Meditative Monologue. I found or rather discovered the essence of the ideology on re-reading the poems of Anna Akhmatova (1889 – 1966), the Russian poetess as translated into English by the American critic and poetess Lyn Coffin. These selections and translations appeared as far back as 1974 but came to be reprinted in 1983, with an introduction by Joseph Brodsky, a friend of Akhmatova in her later years.

He states that ever since her death, Anna Akhmatova has been recognised as the greatest modern Russian poet. Though it is stated that poetry is what is lost in the translation process, I found that Akhmatova possesses the richness of the vision common to the Occident as well as the Orient. Most of the poems are visionary.

For example, she takes the widely accepted view of the belief in the blessings as enchanting gifts of higher beings like gods and goddesses but twists the same into a plane beyond the mundane state of belief. In this direction, she has written several poems on the subject of The Muse, the goddess who empowers the aesthetics of humans. This is how she recreates her plane of creative thinking.

When at night I await the beloved guest

Life seems to hang by thread,

What is youth, I demand of the room.

What is honour, freedom the rest?

In the presence of her, who holds the flute in her hand? But now she is here

Tossing aside the veil,

She considers me.

“Are you the one who came to Dante who dictated the pages of Hell to him?

I ask her.

She replies: “I am.”

Most of the poetic creations of Akhmatova depict sights of a deep sense of social change via a new form of conscience linked to spiritualism and political commitment. What she desires to bring about a change in the social progress devoid of violence, harm and discrimination. As such, some poetic visions embrace a sense of a religious prayer that could lead to an inner metamorphosis. I like the following lines as an example written in 1915 the short poem is titled Prayer:

Give me illness for years an end,

Shortness of breath, insomnia and fever,

Take away my child and friend,

The gift of song, my last believer,

I pray according to my rite

After many wearisome days

That the story cloud over Russia might

Turn white and bask in a glory of rays.

Perhaps as Broadsky in his preface underlines, Akhmatova may have led to the change in mass conscience when reading in the original Russian. Perhaps as he states, Akhmatova belongs to the category of poets who have neither genealogy nor discernible development.

She is the kind of poet that simply happens to hypnotise and arrives into the world with an already established diction power of expression.

Akhmatova expressed feelings of identity linked to a wide spectrum of experiences. They include some of the profiles like Alexander Pushkin, Boris Pasternak and Mikhail Bulgakov. Age-old creators like Dante (of Divine Comedy fame) too emerge to widen the horizons.

Some of the shortest poems resemble more to thought streams that capture moments of illumination. One good example is as follows. The poem has no title.

When a person dies

His portraits change.

His eyes see differently and his mouth

Smiles different smiles

I realised this

When I came back from the funeral of a poet

And I have verified my insight

Many times since then.

Akhmatova sees nature as a living entity. Her poems cannot be classed as mere descriptions of nature, instead of a life-giving force, which enables the humans to reconsider the stance of existence. She writes the following lines in the poem titled as The Willow.

I grew up where all was

Patterned and silent

In the cool nursery of the age,

Itself young.

I didn’t like human words

Spoken or sung.

But I understood what the wind meant.

As Broadsky passes a verdict on her poetic sensibility, she was while eliminating the song of propagandism, desired a social revolution in her motherland via her creations. Furthermore, her versifications gravitated to the vernacular, to the idiom of the folk song, the pulse of the people, whose grief she wanted to share and express as a need of the time.

The love poems written by Akhmatova are neither romantic nor metaphysical in structure. They embrace the sense of ecstasy and delight giving meaning to reality. As Broadsky notes, they had a terrific novelistic quality echoing the worth of living and loving each other. Akhmatova touched an innocence, love, faith, history, fatigue, cynicism, inspiration, guilt, punishment and decadence as her heartfelt subject areas. The language of love is clearly the lingua franca. Its vocabulary absorbs all the other tongues.

 


 

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