Requiem - Foreword



No, not under a foreign heavenly-cope, and

Not canopied by foreign wings –

I was with my people in those hours,

There where, unhappily, my people were.


In the fearful years of the Yezhov terror I spent seventeen months in prison queues in Leningrad. One day somebody ‘identified’ me. Beside me, in the queue, there was a woman with blue lips. She had, of course, never heard of me; but suddenly came out of that trance so common to us all and whispered in my ear (everybody speaks in whispers there)” ‘Can you describe this?’ And I said ‘Yes, I can.’ And then something like the shadow of a smile crossed what had once been her face.


Anna Akhmatova        

(Requiem, 1957)