Anna Akhmatova

AA Complete Poems

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Note: Bài Tựa, là của dịch giả, Judith Hemschemeyer, quá đỗi thần sầu.
Roberta Reeder, người biên tập và giới thiệu, còn là tảc giả 1 cuốn dầy cộm về AA

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In 1973 I read a few of Anna Akhmatova's poems in translation in the American Poetry Review and was so struck by one of them that I decided to learn Russian in order to read them all. Here is the poem, from White Flock, Akhmatova's third book:

The sky's dark blue lacquer has dimmed,
And louder the song of the ocarina.
It's only a little pipe of clay,
There's no reason for it to complain.
Who told it all my sins,
And why is it absolving me? ..
Or is this a voice repeating
Your latest poems to me?

(Zh. 119)

Three years later, when I could read the Russian and compare the existing, "selected Akhmatova" translations with the originals, I became convinced that Akhmatova's poems should be translated in their entirety, and by a woman poet, and that I was that person. Using literals provided by Ann Wilkinson for the first 300 poems and by Natasha Gurfinkel and Roberta Reeder for the rest, I translated the poems in the order established by the Formalist critic Viktor Zhirmunsky in the Biblioteka Poeta edition of Akhmatova's works, published in Leningrad in 1976.
    Zhirmunsky reproduced Akhmatova's five early, uncensored books - Evening (1912), Rosary (1914), White Flock (1917), Plantain ( 1921), and Anno Domini MCMXXI (1922) - in the order in which I hey were published. Just as important, he retained the poet's ordering or the poems within each volume; this allows us to participate in Akhmatova's life and loves as she orchestrated them.
She announces her main subject in the first poem of her first volume: it is titled "Love." The third poem, in which she (at 22!) compares her future fame to Pushkin’s, introduces an important leitmotif-her concern her place among the Russian poets. Another poem in Evening is addressed to the Muse - Akhmatova, whose poetic gift came….

Thật diệu kỳ, mỗi lần dịch thơ Akhmatova, là mỗi lần Gấu nhớ Seagull, thành ra bản tiếng Mít thể nào cũng có hình bóng của Hải Âu
Rõ ràng nhất, là mấy bài sau đây:

D.M. Thomas biên tập & dịch…/sh…/197053.You_Will_Hear_Thunder

You Will Hear Thunder 

by Anna Akhmatova
You will hear thunder and remember me,
And think: she wanted storms. The rim
Of the sky will be the colour of hard crimson,
And your heart, as it was then, will be on fire.
That day in Moscow, it will all come true,
when, for the last time, I take my leave,
And hasten to the heights that I have longed for,
Leaving my shadow still to be with you.

Mi sẽ nghe tiếng sấm

Mi sẽ nghe tiếng sấm và sẽ nhớ ta
Và mi sẽ nghĩ: Ta muốn dông bão.
Viền trời sẽ có màu đỏ thật đậm
Và trái tim của mi, như nó đã từng, vào lúc đó, sẽ cháy bừng bừng
Ngày đó, ở Mát Cơ Va, tất cả sẽ trở thành hiện thực,
Khi, lần cuối cùng, ta bèn bỏ mi
Tới ngọn đỉnh trời mà ta vẫn hằng mong đợi
Để lại cho mi cái bóng của ta
Và nó sẽ ở với mi, suốt quãng đời thừa thãi còn lại của mi
Như là quà tặng của ta.


My feather was brushing the top of the carriage
And I was looking in to his eyes.
There was a pining in my heart
I could not recognize.
The evening was windless, chained
Solidly under a cloud bank,
As if someone had drawn the Bois de Boulogne
In an old album in black indian ink.
A mingled smell of lilac and benzine,
A peaceful watchfulness.
His hand touched my knees
A second time almost without trembling.
Translated by D.M Thomas
Russians Poets
Everyman’s Library

Một chuyến đi

Cái lông chim vũ của tôi thì đang quét quét
Ở trên chỏm chiếc xe ngựa
Và tôi thì đang nhìn vô mắt chàng
Có cú nhói ở tim tôi
Tôi không thể nhận ra
Buổi chiều không gió,
Bị xiềng thật chặt bên dưới một bức tường mây
Như thể 1 người nào đó đã vẽ công viên Bois de Boulogne [Paris]
Trong 1 cuốn an bum cũ, bằng mực đen Ấn Độ
Một mùi tử đinh hương lẫn mùi xăng,
Một chăm chú theo rõi bình yên
Tay chàng bèn chạm khẽ vào đầu gối tôi
Lần thứ nhì
Gần như không run run.
Ui chao, đọc thì lại nhớ lần đi với Seagull. Khi từ giã, thấy tội quá, hẳn thế, em mới đưa tay ra...


Black and enduring separation
I share equally with you.
Why weep? Give me your hand,
Promise me you will come again.
You and I are like high
Mountains and we can't move closer.
Just send me word
At midnight sometime through the stars.

Trong mơ

Xa cách, đen thui và dai như đỉa
Ta chia đều với mi
Tại sao khóc? Già rồi mà còn vãi lệ hoài, không sợ con nít nó cười cho ư?
Đưa tay ra, ta cho phép mi cầm tay ta, như lần từ giã chót, trên chiếc xe mà ta mượn của 1 người bạn
Hãy hứa với ta, mi sẽ lại qua Cali, thăm ta.
Ta và mi là hai ngọn đỉnh trời,
Sừng sững, khó mà gần gũi nhau hơn.
Hãy mail cho ta, vậy là OK rồi
Vào lúc nửa đêm, cỡ đó,
Qua những vì sao.
Note: Mới kiếm thấy, nhờ FB
Bản dịch từ nguyên tác:

Трилистник московский
Анна Ахматова
1. Почти в альбом

Услышишь гром и вспомнишь обо мне,
Подумаешь: она грозы желала…
Полоска неба будет твердо-алой,
А сердце будет как тогда – в огне.
Случится это в тот московский день,
Когда я город навсегда покину
И устремлюсь к желанному притину,
Свою меж вас еще оставив тень.
    Cỏ ba lá Moskva

Anna Akhmatova

1. Gần như đề vào album

Anh nghe sấm, và sẽ nhớ tới em
Anh sẽ nghĩ: cô ấy mong giông tố…
Trên nền trời dọc ngang vạch đỏ,
Và trái tim sẽ bốc lửa như xưa.

Điều đó sẽ xảy ra vào một ngày kia
Khi em rời Moskva này mãi mãi.
Và hướng tới trời xanh bao mong đợi,
Để lại bóng mình ở giữa các người.

Tks. NQT

Posts Tagged ‘Anna Akhmatova’

Does good literature inoculate us against lies? Poet Tomas Venclova thinks so.

Sunday, June 3rd, 2018

“Above all, love language” (Photo: Dylan Vaughan)
I was one of the few people to review Magnetic North, the great Baltic poet Tomas Venclova‘s book-length Q&A with poet and translator Ellen Hinsey certainly in the West, when I wrote for the Times Literary Supplement earlier this year. The book was never going to get a huge commercial audience, certainly, but seeing the long excerpt in the current Music & Literature makes me wonder if the book will have a second (and maybe third and fourth) life in excerpts.
I’m willing to help the process along, so here is an excerpt of the excerpt in the tony online journal (and if you don’t know Music & Literatureyou should): 
Before we go on to speak about other poems, I’d like to ask about poetic inspiration. In her book Hope Against Hope, Nadezhda Mandelstam says that for poets “auditory hallucinations” are a reoccurring occupational hazard, and that Osip Mandelstam experienced poetic inspiration as a musical phrase insistently ringing in his ears. Early on, did you notice any particular sensations that heralded the onset of a poem?
I’m not a very musical person. My imagination is more visual than aural: I admire (and, I hope, understand) architecture and painting, and I love Bach, Handel, and Purcell primarily because they remind me of architecture. Thus, the phenomenon of auditory hallucination described by Nadezhda Mandelstam comes to me not so much as musical phrases sensu stricto, but rather as rhythmic units that can also be understood in spatial terms. But yes, I experience an insistent and intrusive, even irksome feeling of something constantly repeating itself and demanding a liberating effort. It is frequently preceded by a general feeling of unease and a bout of bad mood. In my youth, I learned to understand this as the signal: “A poem is coming.”

The passage above was the first that caught my eye in the Music & Literature article, but then another further dow, picked up a theme I’d discussed only a few days ago in The Book Haven post, “’Bro – he lives!’ Joseph Brodsky on the morality of uselessness, and the need to ‘switch off’. The Lithuanian poet Venclova’s work, from the beginning “constituted his own specific universe,” as his interlocutor, said his translator, Ellen Hinsey. 
I think Brodsky had in mind not just Soviet reality, but reality as such. True, Soviet reality was grimmer than most. After the nightmare of the camps and executions, from which we were trying to awake (to quote Stephen Dedalus, whose experience was milder than ours), we were confronted by an ugly and monotonous present that promised no further change. We were surrounded by the absurd. And that was only a part—one of the worst parts, to tell the truth—of the chaos and nonsense of life. Poetry—and art in general—was a way of resisting that chaos, holding it at bay. This also had political consequences. Politics, seen from this perspective, was something transitory (even if one had to make decent choices in everyday life). On the other hand, it would be an overstatement or even a distortion to assert that we were totally apolitical in our work. The stifling Soviet atmosphere, aggravated by the smug audacity of the authorities, provoked not only disdain, but resentment and indignation that could not help but find its way into our verses. …

Everything possible
Akhmatova frequently speaks about how the Soviet period robbed individuals of the chance to live out their own destinies. In your “A Poem about Memory,” and elsewhere, you reflect on “such a shortage of authentic fate—”
In her magnificent poem, the fifth “Northern Elegy,” Akhmatova speaks about all the things she was denied due to the circumstances of her era. She nevertheless states that she perhaps did everything that was possible in the only life left to her. I was stunned by these proud words. Naturally, our situations were not comparable, but in “A Poem about Memory,” I attempted to understand the way to “do everything possible.” …

He loves architecture.
All literature of quality provides the reader with patterns and insights that enable him or her—perhaps not systematically, but frequently enough—to resist false doctrines. Poetry, in particular, is somewhat mysteriously linked to ethics; and poetic discipline to the fortitude of the spirit. Many poets, including Zbigniew Herbert and Akhmatova—and her protégé, Joseph Brodsky—insisted that refusal to succumb to evil is primarily a matter of taste. I was of the same mind. …
Thus the human quality of tenacity also becomes an important component of personal and poetic ethics. Or as you described in “A Poem about Friends,” dedicated to Natasha Gorbanevskaya, and written after the 1968 demonstration against the invasion of Czechoslovakia in Red Square: “And those who live are chosen by the fog, / Deserted houses, journeys into the distance, / Their weapons are staunchness, abstinence from speech”—
During this period, it seemed as though the course of events were governed by laws of raw power, that is, by statistics. The force of words and human solidarity were our means to counter this, even if this meant prison or exile, as was the case for many of my friends. Speech—or, at least, a silent refusal to lie—was the axis of their existence. I tried to convey this in the very title of my book.
And the title of the book is Magnetic NorthRead the Music & Literature piece here

Joseph Brodsky on Anna Akhmatova: “Big gray eyes. Sort of like snow leopards.”

Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

“You do not know what you were forgiven.”
A link for a radio discussion of the great Russian poet Anna Akhmatova – the interview is with the Irish journalist Mary Russell, one of her many fans, and it aired on RTE Europe here.
Akhmatova’s protégé was Nobel poet Joseph Brodsky, who was drawn to her circle in 1961, a few years before she died. He speaks for a few moments at the beginning of the clip, but to my ear the timber isn’t quite right, a bit tinny (and Russell calls him “Joe Brodsky,” which jars, because no one ever did).
He speaks about Akhmatova this way:
“She’s the kind of poet whose lines you unwittingly mumble to yourself, especially when you’re in trouble. I remember several times, when I would be sick in hospital, surgery, this and that, et cetera et cetera. I would find myself mumbling, completely unrelated to the situation, a few of her lines. Well, they are very memorable.”
Then Akhmatova’s own voice breaks in, reading a few lines in Russian, before he continues: “She was simply, physically, visibly, beautiful. Big gray eyes. Sort of like snow leopards – you know those eyes, ya? Tremendous nose. She was one of the most beautiful women of the century, I think. Tremendous head. Just … absolutely majestic.”
Russell describes her hours of on the train from Leningrad to Komarova, where Akhmatova is buried. Deep snow in countryside. Accompanying her, a woman who had attended the funeral in 1966. They walked through the darkening, forest to the cemetery. She brought flowers, and found the grave already covered with bunch of fresh, red carnations. (It reminds me of my own trek to Pasternak‘s austere, snow-swept dacha outside Moscow – I mentioned it here.)
But which lines did he mumble to himself? I wondered. Perhaps he gives a hint when he reads this 1919 poem, in Russian (it’s better in Russian, trust me):
Has this century been worse than those that went before?
Surely so, that in a fog of fear and grief
It has probed the blackest sore,
And yet has failed to bring relief.
In the west the setting sun still blazes,
And city roofs are gleaming in its light,
But here Death scrawls crosses on the houses,
And calls the ravens, and the ravens fly.
I’m not fond of this online translation, but too many of my books are still in boxes to hunt for something better. Perhaps Solomon Volkov cuts to the heart of the matter when in Conversations with Joseph Brodsky:
“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.”

Joseph Brodsky the Artist – now at Hoover Archives

Tuesday, July 11th, 2017

Brodsky’s sketch of his parents in Leningrad. (Hoover Institution Library & Archives)

Last fall, Lora Soroka, archivist extraordinaire at the Hoover Institution’s Library & Archives, told me to come quick, quick, quick to the Hoover Pavilion. She had a surprise for me. Hoover had just acquired an important collection of Nobel poet Joseph Brodsky papers, which had been gathered by his close friend, Diana Myers, the wife of one of the poet’s translators, Alan Myers. It was not only a surprise, it was a wonder – letters, notes, photos, manuscripts, but perhaps most surprising of all, five self-portraits, a landscape, a still life, drawings in ink and chalk, and inevitably doodles.
Brodsky illustrated almost everything he wrote, often with self-portraits in the margin, or cats, which Yuri Leving of Dalhousie University, in an unpublished manuscript, Joseph Brodsky the Artist, called “acts as a metonymic self-representation of the exiled writer, easing the pathos of the message and translating it into a comic register.”  When I spoke to John Wronoski of Lame Duck Books about the collection, the man who is an expert on modern European literature and who has appraised many Brodsky archives said it was “totally exciting”— the letters alone, he said, would be “jewels in any collection.”
I wrote about the Brodsky papers at Hoover here, but I have a longer article up at the current Hoover Digest, “Brodsky and His Muses.” An excerpt:
In 1962, the high-voltage poet met a dark-haired artist, a woman of silences. He was almost twenty-two, she was nearly two years older. The rest was destiny. Their love, suffering, and final separation forged a poetic identity for the young poet, who would go on to face trial, internal exile, forced labor, psychiatric prisons, and eventually exile.
For decades after the liaison ended, Brodsky immortalized Marina Basmanova in a series of poems eventually published as New Stanzas to Augusta. And what did she give him? A son. But surely a less-observed aspect of the liaison is this: she fostered the poet as artist.
Basmanova lit the fire, but the kindling had been prepared by others. His father was a photographer, and Brodsky learned early how to compose an image in a viewfinder, to develop a “camera eye.” His own photographs show the influence of the father on the son. Moreover, the classical architectural lines of his hometown, the former and future Petersburg, imprinted themselves on his aesthetics almost from birth and found expression in almost everything he wrote. Brodsky certainly would have known of Pushkin’s similar habit of illustrating what he wrote. His parents particularly prized the drawings of Pushkin, and pored over Pushkin albums—which also must have made an impression on the future poet who had been compared to Pushkin for his restless daemon and poetic equilibristics.

On his last day in Russia, June 1972. (Photo: Lev Poliakov)
The great poet Anna Akhmatova took note of her protégé’s drawings in a1965 letter: “When I see them, I always think of Picassos illustrations to the Metamorphoses,” she wrote, recalling the Spanish artist’s deft black lines and the classical motifs that intrigued both Brodsky and Picasso. Other Brodsky drawings have been compared with the work of the French Fauvist painter Raoul Dufy, another painter he admired. 
In America years later, in 1981, Brodsky acknowledged his debt of gratitude to the great love of his early years in “Seven Strophes”:
I was practically blind. 
You, appearing, then hiding,
gave me my sight and heightened it.
 Read the whole Hoover Digest article here.


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