We preserved for ourselves Its palaces, its fire and water. Akhmatova and Shileiko grew unhappy shortly after marrying, but they lived together, on and off, for several more years. When, in , he was allocated two rooms in the Marble Palace, she moved in with him and lived there until This palace on the Neva embankment, in close proximity to the Winter Palace, was originally built for Count Grigorii Orlov, a favorite of Catherine the Great, and then passed into the hands of grand dukes. Both Akhmatova and her husband were heavy smokers; she would start every day by running out from her unheated palace room into the street to ask a passerby for a light.
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She tells how Akhmatova would write out her poem for a visitor on a scrap of paper to be read in a moment, then burnt in her stove.
The poems were carefully disseminated in this way, but it is likely that many compiled in this manner were lost. A ritual beautiful and bitter. In , Akhmatova started her Poem without a Hero, finishing a first draft in Tashkent , but working on "The Poem" for twenty years and considering it to be the major work of her life, dedicating it to "the memory of its first audience — my friends and fellow citizens who perished in Leningrad during the siege".
On returning to Leningrad in May , she writes of how disturbed she was to find "a terrible ghost that pretended to be my city". Kunitz and Hayward  She regularly read to soldiers in the military hospitals and on the front line; her later pieces seem to be the voice of those who had struggled and the many she had outlived.
She moved away from romantic themes towards a more diverse, complex and philosophical body of work and some of her more patriotic poems found their way to the front pages of Pravda. She was condemned for a visit by the liberal, western, Jewish philosopher Isaiah Berlin in , and Andrei Zhdanov publicly labelled her "half harlot, half nun", her work "the poetry of an overwrought, upper-class lady", her work the product of "eroticism, mysticism, and political indifference".
He banned her poems from publication in the journals Zvezda and Leningrad, accusing her of poisoning the minds of Soviet youth. Her surveillance was increased and she was expelled from the Union of Soviet Writers. A stately, grey-haired lady, a white shawl draped about her shoulders, slowly rose to greet us. Anna Akhmatova was immensely dignified, with unhurried gestures, a noble head, beautiful, somewhat severe features, and an expression of immense sadness.
With the press still heavily controlled and censored under Nikita Khrushchev , a translation by Akhmatova was praised in a public review in , and her own poems began to re-appear in That same year Lev was released from the camps, embittered, believing that his mother cared more about her poetry than for him and that she had not worked hard for his release. Isaiah Berlin predicted at the time that it could never be published in the Soviet Union.
Sand on the bottom whiter than chalk, and the air drunk, like wine, late sun lays bare the rosy limbs of the pinetrees. Sunset in the ethereal waves: I cannot tell if the day is ending, or the world, or if the secret of secrets is inside me again. In she was visited by Robert Frost ; Isaiah Berlin tried to visit her again, but she refused him, worried that her son might be re-arrested due to family association with the ideologically suspect western philosopher.
Her dacha in Komarovo was frequented by such poets as Yevgeny Rein and Joseph Brodsky , whom she mentored. She was becoming a representative of both the Soviet Union and Tsarist Russia, more popular in the s than she had ever been before the revolution, this reputation only continuing to grow after her death.
She was moved to a sanatorium in Moscow in the spring of and died of heart failure on March 5, at the age of Thousands attended the two memorial ceremonies, held in Moscow and in Leningrad. After being displayed in an open coffin, she was interred at Komarovo Cemetery in St.
The legend of her life and unyielding passive resistance to what she regarded as unworthy of her country and herself, transformed her into a figure [ Work and themes[ edit ] Poem by Akhmatova on a wall in Leiden Akhmatova joined the Acmeist group of poets in with poets such as Osip Mandelstam and Sergey Gorodetsky , working in response to the Symbolist school, concurrent with the growth of Imagism in Europe and America.
It promoted the use of craft and rigorous poetic form over mysticism or spiritual in-roads to composition, favouring the concrete over the ephemeral. They contained brief, psychologically taut pieces, acclaimed for their classical diction, telling details, and the skilful use of colour. Her early poems usually picture a man and a woman involved in the most poignant, ambiguous moment of their relationship, much imitated and later parodied by Nabokov and others.
But [ Her lyrics are composed of short fragments of simple speech that do not form a logical coherent pattern. Instead, they reflect the way we actually think, the links between the images are emotional, and simple everyday objects are charged with psychological associations. Like Alexander Pushkin, who was her model in many ways, Akhmatova was intent on conveying worlds of meaning through precise details. This was mainly due to the secret nature of her work after the public and critical effusion over her first volumes.
The risks during the purges were very great. Many of her close friends and family were exiled, imprisoned or shot; her son was under constant threat of arrest, she was often under close surveillance.
Between and Akhmatova composed, worked and reworked the long poem Requiem in secret, a lyrical cycle of lamentation and witness, depicting the suffering of the common people under Soviet terror. It was conspicuously absent from her collected works, given its explicit condemnation of the purges. The work in Russian finally appeared in book form in Munich in , the whole work not published within USSR until It represented, to some degree, a rejection of her own earlier romantic work as she took on the public role as chronicler of the Terror.
This is a role she holds to this day. This long poem, composed between and , is often critically regarded as her best work and also one of the finest poems of the twentieth century.
Anna Ajmatova: La calumnia