Russian Poetry: Летний сад, Part 2 Posted by on Feb 9, 2011 in Culture, History


«Дорогие друзья» [Dear friends], I did something very bad this Tuesday: «я пропустила занятие по русскому языку» [I skipped Russian class]. I really did not want to, I assure you. «Но мне было надо написать письменную работу» [But I had to finish my essay (literally “written work”)]. But luckily, this does not mean I have run out of ideas for posts on this blog. This is the second post in a series, so please read the first part if you have not already, otherwise this will not make much sense. 

As promised, here is the second half of the poem.

И замертво спят сотни тысяч шагов
Врагов и друзей, друзей и врагов.

А шествию теней не видно конца
От вазы гранитной до двери дворца.

Там шепчутся белые ночи мои
О чьей-то высокой и тайной любви.

И всё перламутром и яшмой горит,
Но света источник таинственно скрыт.


And through frozen sleep one hundred thousand footsteps
Of enemies and friends, friends and enemies.

You cannot see the end of the procession
From the vase of granite to the doors of the palace.

There my white nights are whispering
About someone’s lofty and secret love.

And everything burns with mother-of-pearl and jasper,
But the source of the light is mysteriously hidden.

Obviously it is better «в подлиннике» [in the original] and I know I am «плохая переводчица» [a bad translator] of poetry.

One of my favorite things about this poem is the longing present in it. «Ахматова тосковала по родине» [Akhmatova longed for her homeland] but after the revolution in 1917, that homeland did not exist anymore. I think she used St. Petersburg as a metaphor for the Russia of her youth because she was not born in St. Petersburg. «Санкт-Петербург был столицей бывшего Российской империи» [St. Petersburg was the capital of the former Russian empire].

If you have any interpretations about the poem, please leave them in the comments! After all, I am not «литературовед» [a literature expert], so I’m sure some of you know way more about this than I do.

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About the Author: Natalie

I'm Natalie and I love the Russian language and sharing my knowledge with others. I graduated from university with a dual degree in Russian language & literature and history.


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