Anna Akhmatova

po_Akhmatova-Anna2Anna Andreyevna Gorenko (June 23, 1889 – March 5, 1966), better known by the pen name Anna Akhmatova, was a Russian and Soviet modernist poet, one of the most acclaimed writers in the Russian canon.

Anna Andreyevna Akhmatova was born Anna Gorenko into an upper-class family in Odessa, the Ukraine, in 1889. Her interest in poetry began in her youth, but when her father found out about her aspirations, he told her not to shame the family name by becoming a “decadent poetess”. He forced her to take a pen name, and she chose the last name of her maternal great-grandmother. She attended law school in Kiev and married Nikolai Gumilev, a poet and critic, in 1910. Shortly after the marriage, he traveled to Abyssinia, leaving her behind.

While Gumilev was away, Akhmatova wrote many of the poems that would be published in her popular first book, Evening.

I WRUNG MY HANDS UNDER MY DARK VEIL
Anna Akhmatova

I wrung my hands under my dark veil…
“Why are you pale, what makes you reckless?”
—Because I have made my loved one drunk
with an astringent sadness.

I’ll never forget. He went out, reeling;
his mouth was twisted, desolate…
I ran downstairs, not touching the banisters,
and followed him as far as the gate.

And shouted, choking: “I meant it all
in fun. Don’t leave me, or I’ll die of pain.”
He smiled at me—oh so calmly, terribly—
and said: “Why don’t you get out of the rain?”