Girl Power and Women's Wiles Poetry Friday Reading Themes

Poetry Friday: A Lenten Reflection with Anna Akhmatova

For those who are observing the Lenten season, today is Good Friday and as such I wanted my offering to be in keeping with the Catholic/Christian community who may be using this time to reflect and be in communion with God. The lovely Robyn Hood Black from Read, Write, Howl is kind enough to do the round-up for us this week.

Click on the image to be taken to the websource.

Anna Akhmatova, a Russian female poet, has written several poems, that I believe are just right for today. I discovered Akhmatova’s poetry and a brief sketch of her life through this well-loved and tattered book which feature female poets ‘from antiquity to now.’

My worse-for-wear, battered, much-loved copy of the book.

In a summary of her life, I noted that Akhmatova was born in Odessa in 1889 and spent her first sixteen years near St. Petersburg. She attended law school in Kiev and married Nikolai Gumilev in 1910. It was her second book of poems entitled Rosary (published in 1914) which brought her fame. She also experienced being silenced as a poet for 18 years as were Boris Pasternak and her contemporaries and earned her living instead as a translator. She lived most of her life in Leningrad. She is best known for her poem Requiem which is made up of several shorter poems which reflect the anguish of the Russian people during the years of persecution under Joseph Stalin (source here). And so without further introduction, here is one of Akhmatova’s poems.

X
Crucifixion

Weep not for me, mother.
I am alive in my grave.

1.
A choir of angels glorified the greatest hour,
The heavens melted into flames.
To his father he said, ‘Why hast thou forsaken me!’
But to his mother, ‘Weep not for me. . .’
[1940. Fontannyi Dom]

2.
Magdalena smote herself and wept,
The favorite disciple turned to stone,
But there, where the mother stood silent,
Not one person dared to look.
[1943. Tashkent]

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

20 comments on “Poetry Friday: A Lenten Reflection with Anna Akhmatova

  1. It makes me wonder how many poets/writers were smothered by that time and sadly for us never re-emerged. Thank you for telling about this one, Myra. I love that line “the heavens melted into flames”.

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  2. Thank you, Myra for this beautiful reflection. Have a blessed Easter.

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  3. Lovely and timely words. Thanks for sharing bits of her life.

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  4. Sad to hear about writers being silenced. Thanks for letting us hear her voice today. Beautiful photo of Anna.

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  5. Thank you for the poem, and the picture of her and the book, also stunning.

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  6. Laura Shovan

    I wonder how she survived. I have heard that she memorized poems during the time she was silenced — “wrote” them in her mind and somehow preserved them that way until they could be written down.

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  7. Yes, thank you for sharing this poet today.

    “To his father he said, ‘Why hast thou forsaken me!’
    But to his mother, ‘Weep not for me. . .’ ”

    – what an interesting concept, and one I’d never thought about before despite the familiar journey through this story each year.

    Wishing you blessings this Easter weekend.

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    • Hi Robyn, my family and I just watched The Passion of Christ yesterday (as is our wont every Good Friday), and yes it is an interesting twist, isn’t it?

      And lovely blessings to you too and your family.

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  8. Resurrection in nature, in religion, and in a poet regaining her voice. Spring is a powerful season.

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  9. Ah Myra…you have captured the spirit of the Tenebrae service I missed at home due to travel. Thank you.

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