ANNA AKHMATOVA: NORTHERN ELEGIES: BI KHÚC PHƯƠNG BẮC
“Everything is a sacrifice to your memory....”
“The last key — is the cold key of oblivion.
It gives sweeter satisfaction than all the ardors
of the heart.”
There are three ages to memories,
And the first — is like just yesterday.
The soul is under their blissful arch,
And the body basks in their blissful shade.
Laughter has not yet died, tears flow,
The ink blot on the desk has not faded —
And, like a seal on the heart, the kiss,
Unique, valedictory, unforgettable ...
But this does not long endure ...
Already there is no arch overhead, but somewhere
In a remote suburb, a solitary house,
Where it is cold in winter, hot in summer,
Where there are spiders, and dust on everything,
Where ardent letters are decomposing,
Portraits are stealthily changing.
People walk to this house as if to their grave,
And wash their hands with soap when they return,
And blink away a facile tear
From weary eyes — and breathe out heavy sighs ...
But the clock ticks, one springtime is superseded
By another, the sky glows pink,
Names of cities change
And there are no remaining witnesses to the events,
And no one to weep with, no one to remember with.
And slowly the shades withdraw from us,
Shades we no longer call back,
Whose return would be too terrible for us.
And waking one morning we realize that we have forgotten
Even the path to that solitary house,
And, choking with anger and shame,
We run there, but (as it happens in dreams),
Everything has changed: the people, the objects, the walls,
And nobody knows us — we are strangers.
We don't find ourselves there ... My God!
And then it is that bitterness wells up:
We realize that we couldn't have fit
That past into the boundaries of our life,
And that it is almost as foreign to us
As to our next-door neighbor,
That those who died we wouldn't recognize,
And those from whom God separated us
Got along perfectly well without us — and even
That everything turned out for the best ...
February 5, 1945