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Final Meeting: Selected Poetry

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Anna Akhmatova (June 23, 1889 - March 5, 1966) is considered by many to be one of the greatest Russian poets of the Silver Age. Her works range from short lyric love poetry to longer, more complex cycles, such as Requiem, a tragic depiction of the Stalinist terror. One of the forefront leaders of the Acmeism movement, which focused on rigorous form and directness of words, Anna Akhmatova (June 23, 1889 - March 5, 1966) is considered by many to be one of the greatest Russian poets of the Silver Age. Her works range from short lyric love poetry to longer, more complex cycles, such as Requiem, a tragic depiction of the Stalinist terror. One of the forefront leaders of the Acmeism movement, which focused on rigorous form and directness of words, she was a master of conveying raw emotion in her portrayals of everyday situations. During the time of heavy censorship and persecution, her poetry gave voice and hope to the Russian people. In this dual-language selection of Anna Akhatmova's poetry, Andrey Kneller's translations capture not only the general message, but also strive to preserve the beautiful lyrical quality of the originals.


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Anna Akhmatova (June 23, 1889 - March 5, 1966) is considered by many to be one of the greatest Russian poets of the Silver Age. Her works range from short lyric love poetry to longer, more complex cycles, such as Requiem, a tragic depiction of the Stalinist terror. One of the forefront leaders of the Acmeism movement, which focused on rigorous form and directness of words, Anna Akhmatova (June 23, 1889 - March 5, 1966) is considered by many to be one of the greatest Russian poets of the Silver Age. Her works range from short lyric love poetry to longer, more complex cycles, such as Requiem, a tragic depiction of the Stalinist terror. One of the forefront leaders of the Acmeism movement, which focused on rigorous form and directness of words, she was a master of conveying raw emotion in her portrayals of everyday situations. During the time of heavy censorship and persecution, her poetry gave voice and hope to the Russian people. In this dual-language selection of Anna Akhatmova's poetry, Andrey Kneller's translations capture not only the general message, but also strive to preserve the beautiful lyrical quality of the originals.

30 review for Final Meeting: Selected Poetry

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sidharth Vardhan

    The Don runs softly in the night, The yellow crescent walks inside. It enters, with its hat askance – And sees a shadow in a trance. It’s a woman, who needs help, It’s a woman, by herself, Her spouse - dead, her son – in jail. I am she. Please, say a prayer

  2. 5 out of 5

    H.A. Leuschel

    I've only recently discovered Akhmatova's poetry and this book is a selection of her work. It's a beautiful introduction for me because it alternates between the poem in Russian poem followed by its translation. I don't read Russian but still very much enjoyed seeing the original first. The poet wrote during the time of heavy censorship and persecution of Stalin's politics of terror and her poetry apparently gave voice and hope to he Russian people. I can see why because she is a master of conve I've only recently discovered Akhmatova's poetry and this book is a selection of her work. It's a beautiful introduction for me because it alternates between the poem in Russian poem followed by its translation. I don't read Russian but still very much enjoyed seeing the original first. The poet wrote during the time of heavy censorship and persecution of Stalin's politics of terror and her poetry apparently gave voice and hope to he Russian people. I can see why because she is a master of conveying raw emotion which must have resonated in people's minds. I will definitely look out for more publications of her work in the future!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Excellent. I don't know Russian, so I can't comment on the closeness of the translations. That said, I've now read at least three versions of many of these poems, and found this edition to be the most attentive to maintaining rhyme. When dealing with another language, that has to be very difficult. And yet, as I read these versions, I felt, maybe for the first time, a sense of Akhmatova's delicate and precise voice. Note that the e-book price for this book is an incredible value. Excellent. I don't know Russian, so I can't comment on the closeness of the translations. That said, I've now read at least three versions of many of these poems, and found this edition to be the most attentive to maintaining rhyme. When dealing with another language, that has to be very difficult. And yet, as I read these versions, I felt, maybe for the first time, a sense of Akhmatova's delicate and precise voice. Note that the e-book price for this book is an incredible value.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mark Desrosiers

    In which a saccharine, hapless translator (James E. Falen) constructs a groovy aviary, using some poems by the Acmeist of everyone's (esp. Modigliani's) dreams. On first reading, these bizarre English-language versions led to several bouts of heckling and eye-rolling as I encountered cooling breezes caressing burning brows, pink cockatoos, bronze laughter, silver lamentations... it was all too much. I blame Falen for much of the comic effect -- if anapests functioned as meter of romance and angs In which a saccharine, hapless translator (James E. Falen) constructs a groovy aviary, using some poems by the Acmeist of everyone's (esp. Modigliani's) dreams. On first reading, these bizarre English-language versions led to several bouts of heckling and eye-rolling as I encountered cooling breezes caressing burning brows, pink cockatoos, bronze laughter, silver lamentations... it was all too much. I blame Falen for much of the comic effect -- if anapests functioned as meter of romance and angst in Russian, they certainly remain hilarious and redolent of Dr. Seuss in English. "These poems are from another time and place, and Falen offers us a rare opportunity to tune into its distant music" blares the foreword, but I disagree. Fidelity to meter and rhyme seems to have cheapened the music, mowed over their sense, and caused us to titter when we should be rending our garments in sympathy: And there the glinting raindrops clean The crusted edges of his wound But wait, my cold and white-washed dream, I too shall turn to marble soon. Rhymes like that -- and they are plentiful here -- are a ska cover of a Patsy Cline ballad, pasties on Akhmatova's Modigliani-tits, a blimp crashing into a herd of swans. Yet there's something in these poems that I know all too well, a vacillating emotional state, catalyzed by lust and kicked into confusion by dreams of blind hate, social bonding, a shared future. This is where I groove on Akhmatova's works, even beyond this translation's musical fog. For example: In each full day resides A dark and anxious hour. Not opening my eyes, I talk to grief aloud; It only beats, like blood, Or like the breath of heat, Like happy, sated love, Malicious in its greed. Again I suspect this was much more sublime in the original Russian, but look, I fucking dig it. Intimations is an unitentionally campy translation of some Very Serious poems, and I suspect your response will depend entirely on the size of your heart.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sincerae

    I saw a biography of Anna Akhmatova at the library a few years ago. If it isn't lost, this book of her poems has inspired me to want to read it. These poems cause me to think of snow, sleet, and diamonds falling softly from the sky. I envision Russia eighty to seventy years ago. I also see love tormented or lost, pain, longing, melancholy, cold and immaculate rooms with polished antiques, rivers flowing through Russian cities, those who loved Christ standing before His crucifixion, and the lonel I saw a biography of Anna Akhmatova at the library a few years ago. If it isn't lost, this book of her poems has inspired me to want to read it. These poems cause me to think of snow, sleet, and diamonds falling softly from the sky. I envision Russia eighty to seventy years ago. I also see love tormented or lost, pain, longing, melancholy, cold and immaculate rooms with polished antiques, rivers flowing through Russian cities, those who loved Christ standing before His crucifixion, and the loneliness and silent terror of the victims of the Stalinist years. As I got deeper into this volume I liked it more and more. Very quiet, tragic, and lovely poetry. This book contains both poems in the original Russian (which I can't read) and the English translation which to me is very lush and beautiful.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Speranza

    The earthly glory is like smoke, I wanted much more than this. In all my lovers I evoked The feelings of joy and bliss. One is still in love somewhere With a friend from long ago, The other stands in the city square,- A statue of bronze in the snow.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sunny

    This girl is classy. Russian poetess around the First World War time in Russian when things were kicking off there big time. She was able to articulate beautiful things in beautifully simple words almost effortlessly and to be able to do that at such a tender young age was really really impressive. She had lots of her close family members imprisoned and was herself ostracised going from highs to lows back to highs again. Talented lady. Here are my favourite bits: ------------------ Love It may cur This girl is classy. Russian poetess around the First World War time in Russian when things were kicking off there big time. She was able to articulate beautiful things in beautifully simple words almost effortlessly and to be able to do that at such a tender young age was really really impressive. She had lots of her close family members imprisoned and was herself ostracised going from highs to lows back to highs again. Talented lady. Here are my favourite bits: ------------------ Love It may curl like a snake in a ball Bewitching your heart in the still Or for days a time it may call Like a dove on a white windowsill It flashes in dazzles of frost And drowses in willowy trees But leads without fail to the loss Of happiness freedom and peace It elicits a sobbing so sweet Like the prayer of a sorrowful viol, and how dreadful it is when its seen In a still unfamiliar smile. ----------------- In the terrible years of the Yezhov terror, I spent seventeen months in the prison lines of Leningrad. Once, someone "recognized" me. Then a woman with bluish lips standing behind me, who, of course, had never heard me called by name before, woke up from the stupor to which everyone had succumbed and whispered in my ear (everyone spoke in whispers there): "Can you describe this?" And I answered: "Yes, I can." Then something that looked like a smile passed over what had once been her face. ------------------ The ice in my breast was unthawing But my step as before remained light. On my left hand I found myself drawing The glove that was meant for my right. It appeared that the stairs were unending Though I knew there were only three. In the maples a whisper of autumn Made a plea: come perish with me. I’m deceived by a fate so malicious So inconstant it films me with rue And I answered: my precious, my precious So am I – and I’ll die with you… Here’s a song of the final meeting As I looked at the house in the night In the bedroom the candles were gleaming A yellow dispassionate light. ------------------------------------ My sister the muse took a glance at my face A glance that was crystal and bright And took from my finger the tiny gold band My first vernal git and delight Oh muse you can see how happy they are The widows the wives and the maids .. Oh better to die on the scaffold by far Than ever to suffer these chains I know as I chant, that I’m fated to tear The delicate daisy to shreds For here on this earth every soul has to bear The torment of love and the dread A candle I burn till the dawn and the dew And no one at all do I miss But no I refuse, I refuse, I refuse To know how another is kissed Tomorrow my mirror with laughter will say: Your gaze isn’t crystal or bright And softly ill answer the muse took away God’s gift in the night. --------------------------------- He never mocked, did not extol As have my friends and foes, He only left his mortal soul And told me: guard it close. And now one worry haunts my mind If he should die today, God’s angel then will come to find And take his soul away. How then can I conceal it, thought? How keep from God my prize? This soul that sobs and warbles so Should be in paradise. --------------------------------- Do not torment your heart with earth’s delights Do not become attached to home or wife, Deprive your tender infant of his bread To give it to a strangers use instead. And be the humblest servant of another, Of him who was your most relentless foe, And call the forest beast your only bother, And never ask the Lord to ease your woe. -------------------------

  8. 5 out of 5

    Afkham

    "You’re always enigmatic and new, And I am ready to serve your desire, But the love that I’m getting from you Is a trial by iron and fire. You don’t allow me to smile or sing, You’ve forbid me to pray long ago. And I’m glad to lose everything Just so long as you don’t let me go!" "You’re always enigmatic and new, And I am ready to serve your desire, But the love that I’m getting from you Is a trial by iron and fire. You don’t allow me to smile or sing, You’ve forbid me to pray long ago. And I’m glad to lose everything Just so long as you don’t let me go!"

  9. 4 out of 5

    Hasan Makhzoum

    Russian to English translations of Akhmatova's poetry could cause a headache to the polyglot readers who read her poetry in different languages and get confused by obvious dissimilarities between various translations of the same stanzas. Here is an example from her poem "The Guest": A- "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 Russian to English translations of Akhmatova's poetry could cause a headache to the polyglot readers who read her poetry in different languages and get confused by obvious dissimilarities between various translations of the same stanzas. Here is an example from her poem "The Guest": A- "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." - by Carl Proffer B- "His torpid eyes were fixed unblinking on my ring. Not a single muscle stirred in his clear, sardonic face. Oh, I see: his game is that he knows intimately, ardently, there’s nothing from me he wants, I have nothing to refuse" - by Kunitz and Hayward C- "And his eyes, dully gazing, Never lifted from my ring. Not a single muscle shifting Beneath that evil-glistening. O, I understand: to know, passionately And intensely, is his delight, That there’s nothing that he needs, And nothing I can deny." - A. S. Kline Frustrating and confusing, eh? No wonder than that many of the non-Russian speaking readers are skeptical about why she is internationally considered by the literary critics as the most remarkable poet of Acmeism (Russian modern school of poetry. The acmeists revolted against symbolism's vagueness and attempted to privilege emotional suggestion over clarity and vivid sensory images) and arguably one of the greatest poets of all time. My favourite poem in this selection is "Epilogue", a poignant tribute by Akhmatova to her friends who supported her when she has suffered from censorship, prison and the persecution of her family, for both her husband, the writer Gumilev, and her son were victims of the oppression by the authorities: "I wish I could call each by name, but the list Was taken away and no longer exists. For all of them, I wove this gorgeous shawl From fragments of phrases I took from them all. I think of them always, wherever I go. I'll never forget them in new times of woe. And soon, when my mouth is sealed once again, - The mouth that screamed for a million men, - Let them remember me in a similar way, - On the eve of my future memorial day." Andrey Kneller's translations of Akhmatova's poems (and of many other poets like Blok, Mandelstam, Mayakovsky, Tsvetaeva) are acclaimed by most of the critiques. This selection in english successfully conveys the meanings enclosed in the verses, cautiously without to forsake the form, the substance, the direct and implicit messages, all with a notable attention given to the original scansion (The rhythm of a line of verse). Many other translations has failed to convey the closure of the original lyric and to transmit the melancholic and the tragic mood that mirrors Akhmatova’s shaken psyche, as well as the directness and the obliquity in her poetry. Wether the translator adheres to the formal prosody (literal translation of the original verse) or recasts the original (by interpretation or "imitation"), these translations alter the rhetorical flow in Akhmatova's original verse, its idioms and metaphors, its beautiful lyrical quality and moreover ruin its rhymes (rich of polysyllabic Russian words), which weaken the stanzas' structure.. As Marjorie Parloff sums Akhmatova's style: « Her poems are almost always written in short rhyming stanzas, in which melopoeia, to use Pound’s term for verse music, trumps not only logopoeia (“the dance of the intellect among words”), but also phanopoeia (the “casting of images upon the visual imagination”). Rhyme, anaphora, assonance, alliteration—this dense musical chiming, central to Akhmatova’s lyric, cannot be carried over into English". http://marjorieperloff.com/reviews/ak... On this subject I recommend this essay by the great Nobel prize laureate poet J. Brodsky http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archi... I have previously wrote notes on the devaluation of translated poems in a review of a Selection of poems by Borges [in Arabic] https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1... and in another very short review of a catastrophic English to Arabic translation of Rilke's poems from the collection “The Essential Rilke”. I'll copy here part of it because it is very relevant to the points I briefly highlighted above: "(..) In order to make you forgive my very modest writing skills in English, I will briefly interfere in order to put side to side some major quotes upon which I have pondered a lot. Consider it as a puzzle-review, feel free to reverse them in order to make your own opinion. “Poetry wasn’t written to be analyzed, it was meant to touch without reason”, says [Nicholas Sparks]. No need to say then, the beauties [linguistic, melodic, ect..] of poetry cannot be preserved in any language except that in which it was originally written, moreover when poetry is considered to be the most challenging part of any language. The translator of the foreign text becomes essential as much as its author, no doubt. Joseph Brodsky has even wrote that “translating a poem is like writing another one”. “Poetry is what gets lost in translation” [Robert FROST] and “The original is unfaithful to the translation” [Jorge Luis Borges]. Worse, a bad translation of one single verb can turn silly even a great foreign text. Not to mention the complex intellectual process to transmit the meters, rhymes ect.. I know it because I have tried to read Rilke in Arabic two years ago, but it was a painful experience. On the other hand I have enjoyed the French editions of Letters to A Young Poet, my FAVORITE, by Grasset and by Livres de Poche. Certainly, when translated to a foreign tongue, “Translation is very much like copying paintings” - [Boris Pasternak]. But translation is essential, I would even say vital for every civilization, because “Without translation, we would be living in provinces bordering on silence” - [George Steiner] To conclude this very short parenthesis, I personally adhere to Yevtushenko’s humorous thought: "Translation is like a woman. If it is beautiful, it is not faithful. If it is faithful, it is most certainly not beautiful".. Sarcastic yet very pertinent.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Laura Edwards

    Disclosure: I read and am rating this book at the invitation of the translator. Always love Akhmatova's poetry. I actually read this side by side with two other translations. Not all the same poems were in each book, a nice thing about collections is you get a little variety with each. I will say that Andrey Kneller's translation is far superior to the Penguin book translated by D.M. Thomas. The Mariner book edition translated by Stanley Kunitz, however, was also excellent. It really depended on t Disclosure: I read and am rating this book at the invitation of the translator. Always love Akhmatova's poetry. I actually read this side by side with two other translations. Not all the same poems were in each book, a nice thing about collections is you get a little variety with each. I will say that Andrey Kneller's translation is far superior to the Penguin book translated by D.M. Thomas. The Mariner book edition translated by Stanley Kunitz, however, was also excellent. It really depended on the poem which I liked better. An interesting afternoon, having three books of poetry side by side and reading three different translations. Andrey, a wonderful job with the epilogue to "Requiem". I had tears in my eyes. The only negative. I wish there was an introduction by the translator explaining his thought process. I always read this (in prose as well as poetry) and usually find very helpful insights. An idea to consider for future books.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jim Gilmour

    I only recently heard of this poet and I was keen to read something by her, I really enjoyed this book and her poetry lived up to the expectations I had when I first read a recommendation about her work, and so I will be returning to this book regularly to become more familiar. I have recommended it to family, and to my sons in particular who enjoy literature and poetry. Andrey Kneller is the author please take a look at his profile and you will see that he is eminently qualified for translating I only recently heard of this poet and I was keen to read something by her, I really enjoyed this book and her poetry lived up to the expectations I had when I first read a recommendation about her work, and so I will be returning to this book regularly to become more familiar. I have recommended it to family, and to my sons in particular who enjoy literature and poetry. Andrey Kneller is the author please take a look at his profile and you will see that he is eminently qualified for translating this work from Russian, and is driven by a love for Russian poetry and a desire to make it more known in the English speaking world. I highly recommend this book.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Viji (Bookish endeavors)

    I have found that poetry is like being in love. And reading the same poet/poetess is like being touched by the same lover multiple times. The initial surprise and goosebumps gives way to complacency if he is not creative enough. This is my third reading of Akhmatova and I have still got goosebumps. “You don’t allow me to smile or sing, You’ve forbid me to pray long ago. And I’m glad to lose everything Just so long as you don’t let me go!   Thus I live, without singing at all. Neither the sky nor the e I have found that poetry is like being in love. And reading the same poet/poetess is like being touched by the same lover multiple times. The initial surprise and goosebumps gives way to complacency if he is not creative enough. This is my third reading of Akhmatova and I have still got goosebumps. “You don’t allow me to smile or sing, You’ve forbid me to pray long ago. And I’m glad to lose everything Just so long as you don’t let me go!   Thus I live, without singing at all. Neither the sky nor the earth is for me. From both, hell and heaven, you stole My spirit, which used to be free.”

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lillian

    The images are so strong "... but we have found out forever/ that blood only smells like blood." This free verse translation of rhymed and metered poems is wonderful, but I wonder what I am missing. It is tantalizing to have the original Russian version opposite the English translation. I look at those Cyrillic letters and wonder what music I am not hearing. The images are so strong "... but we have found out forever/ that blood only smells like blood." This free verse translation of rhymed and metered poems is wonderful, but I wonder what I am missing. It is tantalizing to have the original Russian version opposite the English translation. I look at those Cyrillic letters and wonder what music I am not hearing.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Cristina

    In closeness there is a secret boundary. Love does not cross it. Passion does not break it. Nor lips pressed together in terrible silence. Nor the heart torn by love.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Dipankar

    Anna Akhmatova is a brilliant poet, that much we all know. It is worth reading every single one of her poetry collections, but I wasn't feeling duty-bound to write a review for this collection, until, at the very end, I chanced upon her poem "Epilogue". Sweet heavens! A beautiful monster. It had all the free-spiritedness that is the hallmark of almost every Akhmatova poem, but it also had that soul-crunching weight of despair crushing the verses that is evident in only the greatest poets. Pick u Anna Akhmatova is a brilliant poet, that much we all know. It is worth reading every single one of her poetry collections, but I wasn't feeling duty-bound to write a review for this collection, until, at the very end, I chanced upon her poem "Epilogue". Sweet heavens! A beautiful monster. It had all the free-spiritedness that is the hallmark of almost every Akhmatova poem, but it also had that soul-crunching weight of despair crushing the verses that is evident in only the greatest poets. Pick up this collection, if only for Epilogue. All poems preceding it are extremely worthy appetisers. And then read Epilogue again, and again.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    Amazing poetry. Akhmatova evokes emotions through little details. In one poem she talked about staying with an abusive lover, and I realized it was more about the Russian government than any lover she had. I think I've read another more formal translation, and I liked the informal feel of this one. Amazing poetry. Akhmatova evokes emotions through little details. In one poem she talked about staying with an abusive lover, and I realized it was more about the Russian government than any lover she had. I think I've read another more formal translation, and I liked the informal feel of this one.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Anne Earney

    These poems span the poet's life, moving from early poems about lovers to later ones about the losses of a lifetime lived in Russia. So much sadness, but also quite a bit of beauty, both in the words and the depictions. I'm glad I finally got around to reading some of her poetry. These poems span the poet's life, moving from early poems about lovers to later ones about the losses of a lifetime lived in Russia. So much sadness, but also quite a bit of beauty, both in the words and the depictions. I'm glad I finally got around to reading some of her poetry.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Aditya Narayan

    A great poetic treat. Simple but powerful and subtle work of poetry. Brought me to tears.. intense and real, honest and crude. A great poet that she is.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Stuart

    Disclosure: Mr. Kneller invited me to review his collection of translations. For several years now I have been a student of the relationship between state-making projects and state-resistant peoples, between totalitarianism and the humanities, between oppression and resistance. Naturally this means I have also been a student of Russia, her history, her politics, her literature and her language. Russian is notoriously difficult to translate--the terse, heavy sentences cluster like firs in a boreal f Disclosure: Mr. Kneller invited me to review his collection of translations. For several years now I have been a student of the relationship between state-making projects and state-resistant peoples, between totalitarianism and the humanities, between oppression and resistance. Naturally this means I have also been a student of Russia, her history, her politics, her literature and her language. Russian is notoriously difficult to translate--the terse, heavy sentences cluster like firs in a boreal forest, yielding their meaning to the outsider only after much practice and study, not only of the language, but of the culture, of idiom, of context. Mr. Kneller believes that translation should not only convey (as accurately as possible) idiom and meaning, but also the form in which the idiom and meaning were originally conveyed. Accordingly, Mr. Kneller's translations scan appropriately, and rhyme where they should. I can't help but feel that Akhmatova, herself the undisputed master of Acmeist poetry (concerned with form and rigor and with using words in their most direct and unsettling meaning), would be very pleased with Mr. Kneller's efforts at translation. Final Meeting assembles, in largely chronological order, Akhmatova's stormiest love poems, many of which are nearly haiku-like "complete fragments" of dark, rich coloration, sonorous and devastating. The work concludes with an excellently translated and annotated [Requiem[/i], considered rightly to be Akhmatova's crowning work and one of the best, most enduring works of Soviet literature. Reviewing translations is hard work, involving the comparison of several different translated versions of poetry along with the contemplation of the poems as singular works. Mr. Kneller provides half the footwork for the reader by providing Russian originals alongside his translations NOTE TO POETRY TRANSLATORS: DO THIS ALWAYS, and a few print and online translated collections provide a basis for comparison. Largely, Mr. Kneller's translations are more faithful to the original poetry in terms of form and idiom--where earlier translations might forsake form for the conveyance of meaning, or attempt to convey the meaning of a line within the strict limits of literal interpretation, Mr. Kneller patiently, laboriously constructs in English emotionally and functionally faithful replicas of Akhmatova's Russian poems. As stated above, this is no small feat and any serious appreciation of Anna Akhmatova should begin with his translations. Compare, for example, the first half of "Reading Hamlet", a poem from the perspective of Ophelia. Here's a translation from Tanya Karshtedt: The lot by the graves was a dusty hot land; The river behind -- blue and cool. You told me, "Well, go to a convent, Or go marry a fool..." Princes always say that, being placid or fierce, But I cherish this speech, short and poor -- Let it flow and shine through a thousand years, Like from shoulders do mantles of fur. And here's Kneller's version: The graveyard, wasteland, and the shore, Where the river shines cool and blue. You told me: “Get to a nunnery or Find a fool to marry you…” That’s the sort of thing princes say, I know, But I’ll never forget this one, – Like an ermine mantle let your words shine and flow For many years, and on, and on. Not only is Kneller's version more accurate in terms of form and scansion, his translation really pulls through Akhmatova's fierce pride and Ophelia's dazed hopelessness. Here's another comparison, this time the opening stanza of a poem about early love and sexuality. First, the lines from Judith Hemschemeyer: In my room lives a beautiful Slow black snake; It is like me, just as lazy, Just as cold And now for Kneller's translation: In my room there is a serpent, Slow and gorgeous to behold… She is calm and introverted, Much like I, and just as cold. Again, Kneller captures the languid sexuality of the stanza much more accurately, and the lines scan without sacrificing any meaning. One can easily imagine Akhmatova's lazy smile as she devastates a room of other poets (many of whom were male, all of whom were admirers) with the two opening lines at a reading in some salon. There are a few minor missteps sprinkled throughout (the occasional use of passive voice, one or two small grammatical tics), but they in no way tarnish the greatness and faithfulness of Kneller's translations. There's no possible way that Mr. Kneller could have guessed that I have been (very slowly) teaching myself Russian, and that I am in the process of translating a play by Anna Akhmatova's first husband, Nikolai Gumilev. My meager studies and feeble attempts at translation allowed me to puzzle through the original Russian alongside his translations, not only allowing me a glimpse into Akhmatova's original language, but also allowing me to appreciate greatly his efforts at faithful translation. If you've read Russian poetry or Akhmatova and been put off by the awkward diction that seems to clog up the lines, you owe it to yourself to read through Mr. Kneller's translations. He has done a superb job and I will certainly read his translations of other poets.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rebecka2

    I did not expect this translation to be so much superior to D.M. Thomas's than it turned out to be. Simply "wow". They're so much smoother, so much easier to understand. Poems that I didn't like in the earlier book is suddenly among my favorites in this one. I'll give you an example in the poem "The pillow hot...": D.M. Thomas translation: The pillow hot On both it's sides, The second candle Dying, the ravens Crying. Haven't Slept all night, too late To dream of sleep... How unbearably white The blind o I did not expect this translation to be so much superior to D.M. Thomas's than it turned out to be. Simply "wow". They're so much smoother, so much easier to understand. Poems that I didn't like in the earlier book is suddenly among my favorites in this one. I'll give you an example in the poem "The pillow hot...": D.M. Thomas translation: The pillow hot On both it's sides, The second candle Dying, the ravens Crying. Haven't Slept all night, too late To dream of sleep... How unbearably white The blind on the white window. Good morning, morning! And from this book: The pillow is already hot On both its sides. The second candle's at It's end and ravens' cries Are now resounding near. I didn't sleep this night, Too late for sleep, I fear... Oh, how unbearably white Is this curtain here. Welcome! I think I'll rest my case.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Cristiani

    I had heard Akhmatova's name in passing and decided to check her out...I am so glad I did. These poems are some of the only love-poems I've read with substance. They have depth while being relatable. And she often begins as if she's picking up a conversation, which is brilliant. When I read a beautiful volume like this I can't help but think of the translator as well. I never wished so much that I could read Russian. I imagine in their native tongues, these poems are even more gorgeous. I am alw I had heard Akhmatova's name in passing and decided to check her out...I am so glad I did. These poems are some of the only love-poems I've read with substance. They have depth while being relatable. And she often begins as if she's picking up a conversation, which is brilliant. When I read a beautiful volume like this I can't help but think of the translator as well. I never wished so much that I could read Russian. I imagine in their native tongues, these poems are even more gorgeous. I am always suspicious of translated poems that still rhyme: what was sacrificed for the rhyming word? But these are gorgeous enough that I trust they are true to the original. I am very glad they were translated for English speakers to enjoy.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kalina To

    Anna Akhmatova's poetry is deep emotional universe where love, emotion and loneliness create tragic atmosphere. In 'Final Meeting: Selected Poetry of Anna Akhmatova' Andrey Kneller's russian-english translation shows that the different languages can preserve the specific of the lyrical expression of the author, her absorption and primordial alienation. Chronologically the poems follow psychological states of Akhmatova's painful anticipation, her look at both the past and future. Thanks to this b Anna Akhmatova's poetry is deep emotional universe where love, emotion and loneliness create tragic atmosphere. In 'Final Meeting: Selected Poetry of Anna Akhmatova' Andrey Kneller's russian-english translation shows that the different languages can preserve the specific of the lyrical expression of the author, her absorption and primordial alienation. Chronologically the poems follow psychological states of Akhmatova's painful anticipation, her look at both the past and future. Thanks to this book, we can view the works of Akhmatova in two different linguistic dimensions, to compare them and to rediscover her poetry.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Cath Van

    I had read Akhmatova's poetry in Dutch translation. Although liking her work I also struggled with the rhymed and metered poems.These free-verse translations by Jane Kenyon are absolutely beautiful. I had read Akhmatova's poetry in Dutch translation. Although liking her work I also struggled with the rhymed and metered poems.These free-verse translations by Jane Kenyon are absolutely beautiful.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ellie

    Gorgeous and powerful. A must-read for everyone.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Beautiful. I now place this particular copy/ translation among my favorite books of poetry.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Arlene

    Beautifully written collection of poems, mostly reflecting on the human impact of the Stalinist purges. Very accessible and powerful.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Qianye

    “Come closer, sit here by my side, Be gentle with me, treat me kind: This old blue notebook – look inside – I wrote these poems as a child.“

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jesse Amar

    “If only you, the fool from long ago, The favorite of every single friend, The carefree sinner of the Tsarskoe Selo, Could see your future to its full extent.” —Requiem, IV Here in the middle of Requiem, her poetic cycle on the Stalinist purges, Russia’s favorite poet wonders what her favorite poet, Pushkin, might have thought of the turns that history has taken since his death. But in me a different question is raised by this slim volume: what might the young Akhmatova have thought of the turns he “If only you, the fool from long ago, The favorite of every single friend, The carefree sinner of the Tsarskoe Selo, Could see your future to its full extent.” —Requiem, IV Here in the middle of Requiem, her poetic cycle on the Stalinist purges, Russia’s favorite poet wonders what her favorite poet, Pushkin, might have thought of the turns that history has taken since his death. But in me a different question is raised by this slim volume: what might the young Akhmatova have thought of the turns her own life had taken. The translator has included a selection of youthful poems, poems of individual angst and love, and juxtaposed them with Requiem: and between the two eerie concurrences abound. The lost lovers, the despairing musings, the pain of contact and of separation: Akhmatova’s very constitution, from the beginning, seems to have been such as to foreshadow the excruciating drama of her later life, when, husband murdered and son imprisoned, she would stand for seventeen months amid the hushed crowds before the Kremlin gates. She writes: "I have foreseen this sunny day,/ The vacant home, the desolation;" and I take a peculiar heed of such lines, as I'll try to illustrate with an example. Here is an untitled poem from 1910: “In my room there is a serpent, Slow and gorgeous to behold… She is calm and introverted, Much like I, and just as cold. As I’m writing in the evening, She is sitting by my side, Her indifferent eyes won’t leave me, Shining emerald in the night. In the dark I sob and whimper But the icons don’t reply… My requests would be so different If it wasn’t for those eyes. In the morning, when I’m weary, Like a candle melting thin, A black ribbon slithers freely Down across the shoulder skin.” And here’s the first poem of Requiem: “They took you at dawn, I remember, As though to the wake, I trailed, Children wept in a darkened chamber, And the icon candle grew frail. Your lips kept the icon’s chill. Deathly sweat—I remember it all! Like the wives of the streltsy, I will Moan for you by the Kremlin Wall.” These are beautiful poems (the first is possibly my favorite in the volume), on widely different themes, but three things, as far as I can see, tie them together across thirty years of life and work. The first is stylistic, and is common to all the poems. Akhmatova’s school, called Acmeism, favors direct speech and a rigid approach to meter. (The translator has reproduced rhyme patterns throughout the book, which is often deleterious in translation, since meaning has to be bent to fit the form. Here, the directness of the language might mean that more similes are available to choose from, such that the original meaning can be retained. Not speaking Russian, I am not qualified to judge. In any case, one eventually finds the rhythm of the book, and is not too disturbed.) The second is a consistency in emotional valence. The angsty and analytical character of a young poet is sometimes soothed by marriage and steady work: but Akhmatova’s marriage, not to mention her entire social fabric, was destroyed just as she passed beyond youth. And the third is that symbolic motif: “the icons don’t reply,” “the icon candle grew frail.” There’s a lesson here, for young poets like myself: develop a poetic vocabulary which is flexible, which can be adapted to new situations. A poetic sensibility is one which invests certain objects with a surcharge of meaning: and a surcharge means enough meaning to go around.

  29. 4 out of 5

    David Alexander

    Final Meeting: Selected Poetry of Anna Akhmatova is a fine bilingual selection of Akhmatova's forceful poems (and available for free on Kindle!) Akhmatova in my book is one of the greatest poets of the Twentieth Century. The translator does a fine job. The translations are well crafted and readable, not forced, but seamless, and they clearly convey her fire, her brilliant imagery, her genius in catching upon details which in assemblage convey her vision deftly and engagingly. Her powerful gift a Final Meeting: Selected Poetry of Anna Akhmatova is a fine bilingual selection of Akhmatova's forceful poems (and available for free on Kindle!) Akhmatova in my book is one of the greatest poets of the Twentieth Century. The translator does a fine job. The translations are well crafted and readable, not forced, but seamless, and they clearly convey her fire, her brilliant imagery, her genius in catching upon details which in assemblage convey her vision deftly and engagingly. Her powerful gift and skill in emotionally depicting life in the time of Stalin is an indelible human record of the heart surely more communicative of what it was to be alive then than a bloodless, factually correct report. The volume includes poems related to her personal tribulations under Stalin, the loss of her husband and her son, and the plague of Communist inhumanity. One can clearly see the influence of Orthodox Christianity in her worked and it certainly seems to have been a key part of her formation. Her guilt is not without a sense of the sacred. (I can sound out the Cyrillic characters enough to see that she does indeed stick to a strict rhyme scheme in the Russian.) Her poems are forceful. My gratitude to the translator for making these available.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Holz

    Anna Akhmatova lives in a class of heroine-poets, the beauty of her verse would be just as sweeping had the Russian revolution never happened. In lyric love poetry, she is comparable to Edna St. Vincent Millay - lovely and fearless and raw. Translator Andrey Kneller captures this quality in her poetry while preserving end of line rhyme in his English translation. But because the revolution did in fact happen, we also have Akhmatova the witness poet - a poet still beautiful but very much afraid, Anna Akhmatova lives in a class of heroine-poets, the beauty of her verse would be just as sweeping had the Russian revolution never happened. In lyric love poetry, she is comparable to Edna St. Vincent Millay - lovely and fearless and raw. Translator Andrey Kneller captures this quality in her poetry while preserving end of line rhyme in his English translation. But because the revolution did in fact happen, we also have Akhmatova the witness poet - a poet still beautiful but very much afraid, yet knows she must be a voice for those who cannot speak. She is passionate and crushed by the Soviet boot, but when asked to depict all this, she does not shrink. These are the great dichotomies of her work and Kneller skillfully juxtaposes them in one accessible volume for both Akhmatova's old friends and those who are just getting to know her.

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