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a coppice gate

Anna Akhmatova: Creation

by John Cobley

Wednesday Jun 1st, 2016



It happens thus: some kind of indolence; 

The clock strike never ceases in the ears;

From afar comes a waning thunderclap. 

I sense the complaining and groaning 

Of anonymous captive voices. 

A kind of clandestine circle narrows. 

In this abyss of whispers and ringing 

A single all-conquering sound emanates. 

There’s such a complete silence around it 

That you could hear the grass grow in the woods

Evil traveling the earth with a knapsack…

Words are already becoming audible 

And now the signaling chimes of light rhymes,-- 

Then I begin to understand it all, 

And the dictated lines lie down 

Easily on the snow-white page. 


Anna Akhmatova, November 5, 1936

Translated by John Cobley


1. This line uses images from Russian folklore.

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