Saturday, September 02, 2006

Tribute to Anna Akhmatova

Anna Akhmatova was a Russian poet who lived through the horrors of Stalin's regime, where she was not allowed to publish her poetry, where she saw her son imprisoned for many years, her ex-husband and many others dear to her taken away and killed, where she made her stand and kept writing her poetry, at times not even using pen and paper, just writing in her head, spreading it through word of mouth, kept her muse alive that way.

She wrote a poem about the cruelty of her century, the 20th Century, oh ho ho, little did she know the 21st ain't much of an improvement.

So I thought I would do a tribute poem to Anna Akhmatova, a very cool cat, even in the new millennium.


Anna you knew this table was laid for you, the bill was due, why should you not pay it? Absorbing misfortunes and terrors of your age into your own pounding heart, through some mad alchemy transforming the heaviest despair into poetry which flew like pale white doves high above the realm of grim leadfooted oppressors who could not see streaming banners of truth waving above their small dull heads.

Imagine, imagine whispering the word into one comrade's ear, the palpable excitement of something new! Anna has a new poem! The straining comprehension, the terrible weight of memory, must get each word as it is said, and repeat it, repeat it to another waiting ear, and another, nourishment for starved and scalded spirit.

Whole new languages flourished right in front of foes too numerous to count, where neighbors ratted you out in dead of night knocks at the door, children played spies in deadly earnest, samizdat philosophies wrapped in ribbons of arcane symbols still broke free, a new poem! Anna has written a new poem!

Brutish laughter ringing loudly in stairwells and foyers, heavy pronouncements of big guillotine dooms falling on white bowed necks of poets and philosophers, overflowing jail cells rank with despair, but Anna, Anna has written a poem! Come closer, give me your ear, I will feed you the words, I will go on one more day, oh the excitement!

No hope, no end to dread and grief, words formed in her anguished being from love, from lust and desire, from crazed Russian patriotism to white snow land, St. Petersberg, Leningrad, her bones, her blood. Listen! She has a new poem! Who could imagine mere words to be such a weapon, slicing through immense powers of hatred and oppression, outlasting Stalin and purges of millions. She came to the laden table, she paid the bill, it was, after all, for her.


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