‘Why Is This Age Worse?’ Anna Akhmatova – and a message to ALL of us this Lent.

Why is this age worse than earlier ages?
In a stupor of grief and dread
have we not fingered the foulest wounds
and left them unhealed by our hands?

In the west the falling light still glows,
and the clustered housetops glitter in the sun,
but here Death is already chalking the doors with crosses,
and calling the ravens, and the ravens are flying in.

(Tr.by Stanley Kunitz, with Max Hayward)

Last Toast by Anna Akhmatova

I drink to our ruined house
To the evil of my life
To our loneliness together
And I drink to you—
To the lying lips that have betrayed us,
To the dead-cold eyes,
To the fact that the world is brutal and coarse
To the fact that God did not save us.

(Tr.by Katie Farris and Ilya Kaminsky)

Trenches, trenches – You could lose your way! Of old Europe A scrap remains, Where in clouds of smoke, Towns burn … Now the ridges of the Crimea Grows dark. And I am leading a flock Of my own mourners. Oh, blue cloak Of a tranquil land! … Over a dead medusa.

(From Anna Akhmatova’s ‘The Way of al the Earth, tr. Judith Hemschemeyer)

Of old Europe a scrap remains‘ – Yes, ALL our C21st leaders are culpable, and everyone of us, as well, for allowing them to ruin our lives. And for preventing a new Europe to emerge. Europe is rapidly becoming ‘the foulest of wounds’, alas, with no healer in sight.

‘I drink to our ruined house. I drink to our ruined house’.

Anna was born at Bolshoy Fontan, near the Black Sea port of Odessa in 1889 – the same year as my paternal grand-mother Mary.

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