Anna Akhmatova: “She set our souls in motion”

Joseph Brodsky writes:“We did not go to her for praise, or literary recognition, or any kind of approval for our work … We went to see her because she set our souls in motion, because in her presence you seem to move on from the emotional and spiritual – oh, I don’t know what you call it – level you were on.

You rejected the language you spoke every day for the language she used. Of course, we discussed literature, and we gossiped, and we ran out for vodka, listened to Mozart, and mocked the government.

Looking back, though, what I hear and see is not this; in my consciousness surfaces one line from the same ‘Sweetbriar in Blossom’: “You do not know what you were forgiven.” This line tears itself away rather than bursting out of the context because it is uttered by the voice of the soul, for the forgiver is always greater than the offense and whoever inflicts it. This line, seemingly addressed to one person, is in fact addressed to the whole world.

It is the soul’s response to existence.

It is this, and not the ways of verse-making, that we learned from her.”

Soul of the World by Gurlev Vladmir
 Zinaida Serebriakova drawing of Anna 1922

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