Anna and the Scourge

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RCJames
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Anna and the Scourge

Post by RCJames » Sat Jul 27, 2019 10:32 pm


We memorized poems
to pass them on,
past the strident winds
out of the Kremlin.

When I walk the avenue
lined with our history,
I trust you to guard
the ashes I can't claim.

My friends now in corners
unknown, memories enfold us
in the raw weather of our release.

Dank cells offer only blank prospects,
now, a full moon illuminates your path,
promise opens out to a peaceful sea.

Remember metal on metal at dawn,
the thud and crunch of boots,
shouts, and cries of the tortured.

Black Marias careened with human loads,
we consoled each other, understanding
that Russian speech was our homeland.

Delirium thrived; we walked by
the frozen grins of corpses,
chains finally unfastened.

Proud Russia writhed under jackboots,
I won't allow emotion now,
a dark shroud protects our memories.

I remember your words as I do your faces,
There will be new sorrows, but I will
remember our time through them all.

If there is to be a monument,
place it in front of the steel doors
where I stood for hundreds of hours,

where an old woman's cries echoed
through us and no one slid back the bolt.
Escaped, the Russian word will last forever.
Last edited by RCJames on Sun Jul 28, 2019 3:34 pm, edited 2 times in total.

RCJames
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Re: Anna Akhmatova and the Scourge

Post by RCJames » Sat Jul 27, 2019 10:33 pm

Somewhere there is a simple life

by Anna Akhmatova

Somewhere there is a simple life and a world,
Transparent, warm and joyful. . .
There at evening a neighbor talks with a girl
Across the fence, and only the bees can hear
This most tender murmuring of all.
But we live ceremoniously and with difficulty
And we observe the rites of our bitter meetings,
When suddenly the reckless wind
Breaks off a sentence just begun -
But not for anything would we exchange this splendid
Granite city of fame and calamity,
The wide rivers of glistening ice,
The sunless, gloomy gardens,
And, barely audible, the Muse's voice.


Akhmatova's work ranges from short lyric poems to intricately structured cycles, such as Requiem (1935–40), her tragic masterpiece about the Stalinist terror. Her style, characterised by its economy and emotional restraint, was strikingly original and distinctive to her contemporaries. The strong and clear leading female voice struck a new chord in Russian poetry.[4] Her writing can be said to fall into two periods – the early work (1912–25) and her later work (from around 1936 until her death), divided by a decade of reduced literary output. [4] Her work was condemned and censored by Stalinist authorities and she is notable for choosing not to emigrate, and remaining in Russia, acting as witness to the events around her. Her perennial themes include meditations on time and memory, and the difficulties of living and writing in the shadow of Stalinism.
Primary sources of information about Akhmatova's life are relatively scant, as war, revolution and the Soviet regime caused much of the written record to be destroyed. For long periods she was in official disfavour and many of those who were close to her died in the aftermath of the revolution.[5] Akhmatova's first husband, Nikolay Gumilyov,

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JJWilliamson
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Re: Anna Akhmatova and the Scourge

Post by JJWilliamson » Sun Jul 28, 2019 5:38 am

A fascinating read, RC, and a very sad and engaging story. I was fully immersed in the poem from start to finish.
It's an interesting perspective, given her noble background, but God only knows what it must have been like
to endure the Stalinist regime.

We memorized poems
to pass them on,
past the strident winds
out of the Kremlin. ...Good opening and a definite hook.

When I walk the avenue
lined with our history,
I trust you to guard
the ashes I can't claim. ...Seems to be referencing/lamenting the death of old Russia and the death/execution of her husband.

My friends now in corners
unknown, memories enfold us ...I wondered if the simpler "surround" would work better. The word 'enfold' seems a bit deliberate. Mind you, I'm simplifying a lot of stuff at the mo', so each to their own.
in the raw weather of our release.

Dank cells held only blank prospects, ...Could the cells "offer" the blank prospects?
now, a full moon illuminates your path,
promise opens the gates to a calm sea. ...Not at all sure about this metaphor, unless you're referencing something specific. The gates to the sea seems odd. "The gates to a calm Earth" or perhaps "peaceful". It would also link to the moon.

Remember metal on metal at dawn,
the thud and crunch of boots,
shouts, and cries of the tortured. ...Powerful and believable.

Black Marias careened with human loads,
we consoled each other, understanding
that Russia[n speech] was our homeland. ...I think I get this line. Do you need 'speech'?

Dementia thrived. We walked by ...Not sure where 'dementia' came from.
the frozen grins of corpses,
chains finally unfastened.

Proud Russia writhed under jackboots,
I won't allow emotion now,
a dark shroud protects our memories.

I remember your words as I do your faces,
There will be new sorrows, but I will
remember our time through them all. ...Wonderfully melancholic and utterly believable.

If there is to be a monument,
place it in front of the steel doors
where I stood for hundreds of hours, ...Excellent strophe.

where an old woman's cries echoed
through us and no one slid open the bolt. ...Would "slid back" work with its wordplay? This could reference a slideback to the old ways and the pulling back of the literal bolt.
Escaped, the Russian word will last forever. ...A great closing metaphor.

I enjoyed it more and more as I pored over each line.

Best

JJ
Long time a child and still a child

NotQuiteSure
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Re: Anna Akhmatova and the Scourge

Post by NotQuiteSure » Sun Jul 28, 2019 11:40 am

.
Hi RC,
enjoyed this, though I suspect I don't know enough about the subject to get all the references.
Did you consider The Scourging of Anna Akhmatova as a title?
Is there a reason for the format? Is the final verse supposed to have 4 lines? L3 there seems odd.

I think it would work better without contractions.

S3 - comma after 'My friends' ? Agree with JJ about 'enfold'. 'Unknown' seems really weak here. Like L3.

S4 - The rhyming of 'dank' and 'blank' undercuts this, I think. Why not simply The/Their/Our cells hold ... ?
L2/3 seem to be from a different poem.

S6 - 'careened' is both too tv and wrong, :)

S7 - 'Dementia' seems anachronistic.

S10 - I think this would make for a stronger ending. It's a great verse.

S11- again with JJ, 'slid back'. Not sure about 'escaped' (given here views on exile), do you need it? )


We memorize poems to pass them on.

Defying the strident winds which blew,
like hurricanes, from
the Kremlin.
I remember your words as I do your faces.

Though there will be new sorrows, I will not forget
our time through them all. When I walk the avenue
lined with our history, I trust you to guard the ashes

forbidden to me. My friends, now in corners
unknown, memories enfold us in the raw weather
of our release. Remember metal on metal at dawn,

the thud and crunch of boots, shouts, and cries
of the tortured. Black Marias screaming
with human loads. We consoled each other,

understanding that our speech was our homeland.
Dementia thrived. We walked on the frozen grins
of corpses finally released from bondage.

Our pride
writhed under jackboots,
but I will not allow emotion now.
A dark shroud protects our memories.

If there is to be a monument,
place it in front of the steel doors
where I stood those hundreds of hours,

memorizing poems to pass them on.


Regards, Not


.

RCJames
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Re: Anna and the Scourge

Post by RCJames » Sun Jul 28, 2019 5:10 pm

jj and Not - Thank you both for the suggestions - working on a revision - RC

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