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Anna Akhmatova

Anna Akhmatova

ANNA AKHMATOVA: The New Year's Ballad

The New Year's Ballad

In cloudy darkness, the bored crescent-sable
Had sent to our room its grim shine.
Six sets are installed on the white of the table,
And empty of them – only one.

We wait – I, my husband and few friends of mine –
For time the New Year to be met.
But, just like a poison, burns me a red wine,
My fingers – like sunk in blood red.

The host was all solemn, immovable, strained,
While raising his filled to rims glass:
“I drink to the soil of our native land,
In which every one of us lies!”

My friend then exclaimed in a loud, gay voice,
While thinking of something naïve,
“I drink to her songs, to her beautiful songs,
In which we eternally live!” 

But the third, which till now hadn’t known, I think, 
When He had closed his eyes, 
Answered my thoughts at once,
“I’m sure that we all have right now to drink
To him, who isn’t still with us.”

Translated by Yevgeny Bonver, January, 2002

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