So many requests, always, from a lover!
None when they fall out of love.
Iím glad the water does not move
Under the colourless ice of the river.
And Iíll stand Ė God help me! Ė on this ice,
However light and brittle it is,
And you Ö take care of our letters,
That our descendents not misjudge us,
That they may read and understand
More clearly what you are, wise, brave.
In your glorious biography
No row of dots should stand.
Earthís drink is much too sweet,
Loveís nets too close together.
May my name be in the textbooks
Of children playing in the street.
When theyíve read my grievous story,
May they smile behind their desklids Ö
If I canít have love, if I canít find peace,
Give me a bitter glory.
Anna Akhmatova, from Rosary 1913 ††
(translated by D.M. Thomas)††††††††††††††††††