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Primorsky sonet (Приморский сонет)

Original Text

Здесь все меня переживет,
Все, даже ветхие скворешни
И этот воздух, воздух вешний,
Морской свершивший перелет.

И голос вечности зовет
С неодолимостью нездешней,
И над цветущею черешней
Сиянье легкий месяц льет.

И кажется такой нетрудной,
Белея в чаще изумрудной,
Дорога не скажу куда...

Там средь стволов еще светлее,
И всех походе на аллею
У царскосельского пруда.

Июнь 1958 Комарово

English

Seaside Sonnet
Translated by Alistair Noon
 

It will all live longer than me:

even the rickety bird-boxes,

and the air that makes the crossing

in the spring from over the sea.

 

The voice of eternity speaks,

it speaks with unearthly might,

and the pouring moonshine will find

the tops of the sweet cherry trees.

 

And the road does not seem hard,

whitening in the emerald glass,

though I won't say where it will end.

 

Those trunks, where the light shines through,

look more and more like the avenue

in Tsarskoe Selo by the pond.

 

June 1958 Komarovo

  • Country in which the text is set
    Russia
  • Featured locations

    Комарово (Komarovo, Kellomäki)

  • Impact

    The poem was written in June 1958 in Komarovo and is also known as “The Last Sonnet” or “The Summer Sonnet” due to its first line: “Everything in this place will outlive me…”―a reference to the birds’ houses, the spring air from the sea etc. It is a piece of philosophical verse as well as a beautiful depiction of nature’s gentle mood. In the coda the poet returns to the pond in the park of Tsarskoye Selo where she spent the happy years of her youth. This is also a reference to Pushkin, who spent his youth in Tsarskoye Selo and much later wrote a poem in which he speaks of how the people would remember him after his death. Akhmatova’s first line is thus also an allusion to Pushkin’s poem and indicates her view that her own pen is an heir to Pushkin’s.

    Anna Akhmatova is considered one of the most important Russian poets of the twentieth century. Her significance is also based on her role as the poet who experienced the fate and history of Saint-Petersburg-Petrograd-Leningrad as it unfolded during the twentieth century in all its tragedy and all its glory. Even during the harshest years of Soviet history when publication of her work was banned, she retained her reputation as a master stylist and a truly original poetic voice.

    Akhmatova’s verse has been translated into all European languages. The poet she most admired was Pushkin. Her oeuvre encompasses the tradition of the Russian (and St.Petersburg) poetry of the twentieth century (the Golden Age), to which she added new imagery and unsurpassed new depth, earning her the reputation of queen of the so-called Silver Age.

    She also absorbed currents from French poetry of the first two decades of the twentieth century and introduced them to Russia between the wars. The impact of her person and oeuvre during these decades is illustrated by the emergence of a whole group of young female poets who were called “podakhmatovkis”, e.g. those trying to compose verse like Anna the Great. Being a beautiful woman she enthralled the many talented men of her time, among them Amedeo Modigliani and Isaiah Berlin. Having spent the greater part of her life in the “Fountain House” in the center of Leningrad, she has become its legend and a symbol of the spirit of freedom that refused to bow before the horrors of the Stalinist age. Though many of her loved ones were sent to prisons and labor camps she refused to consider emigrating to the West. In the 1960s Akhmatova was granted the title of the Honorary Doctor by Oxford University and was given permission to go to England for the ceremony.

  • Balticness

    Akhmatova lived the major part of her life in Saint Petersburg (Petrograd, Leningrad) and became the city’s poet. However, she spent the last 10 years of her life in a little cottage in the Finnish village of Komarovo (Finnish name Kellomäki) by the shore of the Gulf of Finland. She devoted a great deal of her later lyrical verse to the humble beauty of this landscape. Her Komarovo cottage became something of a literary Mecca, and its visitors included Andrey Voznesensky, Joseph Brodsky and many other young poets, all of them seeking her opinion and approval. Akhmatova is buried in the Komarovo cemetery and the little town remains famous throughout the world because of her association with it.

    Polina Lisovskaya

  • Bibliographic information

    All seven poems are parts of different collections and for the most part were published long after they were written, either posthumously or after the advent of Perestroika.

  • Year of first publication
    1950s–1990s
  • Place of first publication
    Moscow, Leningrad