On the Century of Anna Akhmatova’s Birth
(Joseph Brodsky, July 1989)
The page and the fire, the millstone, the grain,
the blade of the axe, the hacked crop of hair –
God cares much for these, yet, as were they his own,
for two words – Love, Forgiveness – still fonder’s his care.
In them beats a broken pulse, cracking of bones,
the knock of the spade; and even-paced, soft
(since life comes once only), more clear ring their tones
from the dead’s mouths than from soundproofed
Great soul, over oceans my reverence I’m sending
for finding them for us; to you, your remains
in our native soil sleeping, I give thanks for finding
the blest gift of speech in earth’s deaf-mute domains.
An anthology of poems by the major literary figures in Russia, writing to, about, or in memory of other poets, following a tradition which started in the early years of the twentieth century and continued through the subsequent decades, more or less until the millennium.
With the great names of Russian poetry represented – among them Akhmatova, Tsvetaeva, Mandelstam, Pasternak, Bloch, Nabakov and Brodsky – this is a unique approach and promises to be a publication of great significance both in the UK and in Russia.
Peter Oram is known both as a translator (from Russian and German) and as a poet, novelist and short story writer. He has had two novels published – Maddocks (Gomer Press), and The Rub (Starborn Books) and a collection of poems, White (Starborn Books).