Anna Akhmatova

Elisavietta Ritchie

Elisavietta Ritchie Translates Anna Akhmatova

Poetry in Translation Issue
Volume 16:3, Summer 2015

“You have invented me. No one like that on the earth…”

You have invented me. No one like that on the earth,
Nor can earth have someone like that.
Neither surgeon can heal, nor poet soothe—
The shadow of your ghost haunts me day and night.
We met in an unusual year
When the force of the world had dried up.
Everything was in mourning, everything drooped from misfortune;
Only the graves were still fresh.
No street lamps: the banks of the Neva were black.
Night stood deaf around all the walls…
It was then my voice shouted for you!
What was I doing—I couldn’t yet understand.
And you came to me, as if led by a star,
You came through that tragic autumn
To a house emptied forever, but
A horde of poems on fire flowed through its door.



Ты выдумал меня. Такой на свете нет,
Такой на свете быть не может.
Ни врач не исцелит, не утолит поэт, –
Тень призрака тебя и день, и ночь тревожит.
Мы встретились с тобой в невероятный год,
Когда уже иссякли мира силы,
Все было в трауре, все никло от невзгод,
И были свежи лишь могилы.
Без фонарей, как смоль был черен невский вал,
Глухая ночь вокруг стеной стояла…
Так вот когда тебя мой голос вызывал!
Что делала – сама еще не понимала.
И ты пришел ко мне, как бы звездой ведом,
По осени трагической ступая,
В тот навсегда опустошенный дом,
Откуда унеслась стихов сожженных стая.


Anna Akhmatova (1889 - 1966) was a critically acclaimed Russian modernist poet. Although her work was condemned by forces loyal to Stalin, she refused to leave the Soviet Union during Stalin's violent rule. Her first husband was executed by the Soviet secret police, and her son, as well as her common-law husband, spent years imprisoned in the Gulag. She is known for her short lyric poems, as well as her intricately structured long masterpieces "Requiem" and "Poem Without a Hero."

Elisavietta Ritchie has translated poems mainly from Russian and French, but also Macedonian, Malay and Indonesian. Seventeen of her poetry collections have been published, including Guy Wires (Poets' Choice Publishing, 2015), Tiger Upstairs on Connecticut Avenue (Cherry Grove, 2013), Feathers, Or, Love on the Wing (Sheldon Studios, 2013), From the Artist's Deathbed (WinterHawk Press, 2012), Cormorant Beyond the Compost (Cherry Grove, 2011), and Real Toads (Black Buzzard Press, 2008). She served as President of Washington Writers' Publishing House from 1983 to 1986, and president of their fiction division from 2000 to 2010. Ritchie founded Wineberry Press. She edited the anthologies The Dolphin's Arc: Endangered Creatures of the Sea (SCOP Publications, 1989), and Finding the Name (Signal Books, 1983). A co-founder with Myra Sklarew of A Splendid Wake, an organization to honor deceased poets in the Greater Washington Area, she works currently as a writer, editor, mentor, workshop leader for creative writing, journalist, photographer, poet in the schools and To read more by this author, see poems from the Fall 2002 issue, and her essays on Betty Parry and John Pauker.