I am air and fire ...



She has kissed lips already grown in human,

On her knees she has wept already before Augustus ...

And her servants have betrayed her. Under the Roman

Eagle clamour the raucous trumpets, and the dusk has


Spread. And enter the last hostage to her glamour.

‘He’ll lead me, then, in triumph?’ ‘Madam, he will.

I know’t’ Stately, he has the grae to stammer ...

But the slope of her swan’s neck is tranquil still.


Tomorrow, her children ... O, what small things rest

For her to do on earth – only to play

With this fool, and the black snake to her dark breast

Indifferently, like a parting kindness, lay.


Anna Akhmatova        

(Muse, 1940)