A Song of the Final Meeting, Anna Akhmatova

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Written in 1911, when Akhmatova was twenty-two, this tells of the end of a love affair. As so often, Akhmatova’s playfully fluid metre is difficult to catch. My most blatant liberty was to render “унылой” (“dismal”) as “snarling” – led astray by the quest for a rhyme with “darling”…

Breast so helpless succumbing to chilling,
But with feather-tread airy I paced.
Struggling, frozen left mitten contriving
On right-hand digits to place.

Many journeying paces it seeming –
Yet I knew there were only three!
Midst autumnal-leaved maples, whispering –
It besought me, “Perish with me!

Straying wanderer deceived by snarling
Fickle wicked faith-spending doom.”
Answered I, “O my darling, darling!
You and I’ll go to the tomb…”

Here’s a song of the final meeting.
Cast I glance on dark house’s frame;
Saw the distant and yellow flickering
Candles’ dimly guttering flame.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Так беспомощьно грудь холодела,
Но шаги мои были легки.
Я на правую руку надела
Перчатку с левой руки.

Показалось, что много ступеней,
А я знала – их только три!
Между кленов шепот осенний
Попросил: “Со мною умри!

Я обманут моей унылой,
Переменчивой, злой судьбой”.
Я ответила: “Милый, милый!
И я тоже. Умру с тобой…”

Эта песня последней встречи.
Я взглянула на темный дом.
Только в спальне горели свечи
Равнодушно-желтым огнем.

Translation by Rupert Moreton

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