Leaving behind the groves of the sacred homeland,
The house, where the muse wept in lament,
I, cheerful and quiet, found a place
Upon an island, which was like a raft
That stopped in the thick delta of the Neva.
O, these peculiar mysterious days of winter,
Sweet labor and the light fatigue thereafter,
And roses in the washroom pitcher!
The alleyway was short and draped with snow.
The temple of Saint Catherine rose up
To face our doorway with its sanctuary wall.
I left the house early in the morning
And often walked on the untouched fresh snow,
To no avail trying to find the footprints
I left last night upon the pure white mantle,
Along the river, where like turtle-doves,
The schooners cuddled with each other gently,
And yearned for coastal waters until spring,
I slowly neared the old and rusted bridge.
There was a room, resembling a cage,
Beneath the rooftop of the noisy building,
Where like a siskin, whistling by the easel,
He cheerfully complained, and often spoke
With sadness of the joy he never felt.
I looked uneasy, as if looking in the mirror,
Upon the old gray canvas, and each week,
The semblance to the new depiction
Was even stranger and more bitter than the last.
Now, I don’t know where my dear artists is,
The one with whom I walked out through the window
Onto the very rooftop from the attic,
And stood upon the ledge before a deadly drop,
To see the snow, the Neva and the clouds, -
But I can sense our Muses must be friends,
Sharing a carefree, captivating friendship,
Like two young girls that never knew of love.
By Anna Akhmatova
Translation by Andrey Kneller