The Silver Age of Russian Poetry

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Anna Akhmatova

The Guest

All as before: against the dining-room windows
Beats the scattered windswept snow,
And I have not changed either,
But a man came to me.

I asked: "What do you want?"
He replied: "To be with you in Hell."
I laughed: "Oh, you'll foredoom
Us both to disaster."

But lifting his dry hand
He lightly touched the flowers:
"Tell me how men kiss you,
Tell me how you kiss men."

And his lusterless eyes
Did not move from my ring.
Not a single muscle quivered
On his radiantly evil face.

Oh, I know: his delight
Is the tense and passionate knowledge
That he needs nothing,
That I can refuse him nothing.

January 1, 1914

Link to selections of another woman poet of the same era, Marina Tsvetaeva

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The Silver Age of Russian Poetry
created by Lindsay Malcolm

last modified: August 8th, 1999