Beauty will save

Beauty in everything

Russian poetry – Marina Tsvetaeva and Anna Akhmatova

Russian and Soviet poet Marina Tsvetaeva

Russian and Soviet poet Marina Tsvetaeva

Russian poetry – Marina Tsvetaeva and Anna Akhmatova. Russian and Soviet poet Marina Tsvetaeva was born on 8 October 1892, she lived through and wrote of the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the Moscow famine that followed it. In an attempt to save her daughter Irina from starvation, she placed her in a state orphanage in 1919, where she died of hunger. Tsvetaeva left Russia in 1922 and lived with her family in increasing poverty in Paris, Berlin and Prague before returning to Moscow in 1939. Her husband Sergei Efron and her daughter Ariadna Efron (Alya) were arrested on espionage charges in 1941; and her husband was executed. Tsvetaeva committed suicide in 1941. As a lyrical poet, her passion and daring linguistic experimentation mark her as a striking chronicler of her times and the depths of the human condition.

Russian poetry - Marina Tsvetaeva and Anna Akhmatova

silver age poet Marina Tsvetaeva

If there is ever a poem that I am always coming back to, it’s “Where does this tenderness come from?” by the “silver age” Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva. It asks questions that cannot be answered; it hints at doubt even while it pays reference to bliss. It’s a song for the singer, and celebrates love even as it finds it, in the literal sense, almost unbelievable.

Russian poetry - Marina Tsvetaeva and Anna Akhmatova

Marina, her husband Sergei Efron and children

Russian poetry - Marina Tsvetaeva and Anna Akhmatova

Marina Tsvetaeva and her husband Sergei Efron

Russian poetry - Marina Tsvetaeva and Anna Akhmatova

Marina Tsvetaeva in 1930

Russian poetry - Marina Tsvetaeva and Anna Akhmatova

Marina Tsvetaeva, Moscow, 1916

Russian poetry - Marina Tsvetaeva and Anna Akhmatova

Marina Tsvetaeva and her son George. 1935

Russian poetry - Marina Tsvetaeva and Anna Akhmatova

Sisters Tsvetayevs and S. Efron

Russian poetry - Marina Tsvetaeva and Anna Akhmatova

S. Efron and Tsvetaeva in Crimea

Marina Tsvetaeva and Anna Akhmatova

Marina Tsvetaeva and her son, Versailles. 1930

Marina Tsvetaeva and Anna Akhmatova

Where does this tenderness come from

Where does this tenderness come from?

Where does this tenderness come from?
These are not the – first curls I
have stroked slowly – and lips I
have known are – darker than yours

as stars rise often and go out again
(where does this tenderness come from?)
so many eyes have risen and died out
in front of these eyes of mine.

and yet no such song have
I heard in the darkness of night before,
(where does this tenderness come from?):
here, on the ribs of the singer.

Where does this tenderness come from?
And what shall I do with it, young
sly singer, just passing by?
Your lashes are – longer than anyone’s.

Translation from Russian © Elaine Feinstein

Marina Tsvetaeva and Anna Akhmatova

grave of Marina Tsvetaeva

On 31 August 1941 Tsvetaeva hanged herself. She left a note for her son Mur: “Forgive me, but to go on would be worse. I am gravely ill, this is not me anymore. I love you passionately. Do understand that I could not live anymore. Tell Papa and Alya, if you ever see them, that I loved them to the last moment and explain to them that I found myself in a trap.

red berry

rowan red berry

P.S. My favorite poem by Marina Tsvetaeva
(my translation)
Красною кистью
Рябина зажглась.
Падали листья.
Я родилась.

Спорили сотни
Колоколов.
День был субботний:
Иоанн Богослов.

Мне и доныне
Хочется грызть
Жаркой рябины
Горькую кисть.

As if with the red brush
The rowan lit.
The leaves were falling.
I was born.

Hundreds of bells were arguing
The day was Saturday:
St. John the Evangelist.

And still I want to gnaw
hot berries of rowan
so bitter and red…..

Marina Tsvetaeva and Anna Akhmatova

Anna Akhmatova, 1904

Anna Akhmatova’s poem was written, supposedly in a fevered delirium, some time after the occasion of Tsvetaeva’s suicide. It constitutes only one example of the intertwining—though not always aligning—themes of grief and memorial in Akhmatova’s work. The rest, well they are to be read to be believed.

* * *

There are four of us

Herewith I now renounce all earthly goods,
Whatever worldly property I own,
The spirit that is guardian of this place is
Only an old tree stump standing in water.

We are no more than guests upon this earth,
To live, essentially no more than habit…
I overhear two friendly voices now,
Speaking to one another in the air.

Did I say two?…Look, by the eastern wall
Where raspberry canes are tangling with each other
There is a fresh, dark elderberry branch,
And that is like a letter from Marina.

Marina Tsvetaeva and Anna Akhmatova

Anna Akhmatova, by artist Zinaida Serebriakova 1922

Marina Tsvetaeva and Anna Akhmatova

N. Altman. Portrait of Anna Akhmatova, in 1914. Russian Museum

Great Russian poet, literary critic and translator Anna Akhmatova (Anna Gorenko) was born on 11 June 1889, died March 5, 1966.

Anna Akhmatova

Anna Akhmatova

Most people interested in Russian literature and the culture of the twentieth century are familiar with the names Anna Akhmatova and Marina Tsvetaeva, even if they have not read many of their literary works. They are considered two of the most talented writers of the century and they both experienced much suffering as artists and individuals in this tumultuous century.

http://www.russianheritage.org