Tricks of the Trade: The Muse


Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966)

Here is my translation of the third section of Anna Akhmatova’s five-part poem entitled ‘Tricks of the Trade’, written at various times between 1936 and 1959. This section is undated. The whole poem concerns the creative process and various related topics, and the different parts bear the following headings: ‘Creation’, ‘I Have No Need of Odelike Armies’, ‘The Muse’, ‘The Poet’ and ‘The Reader’. My translations of the first two parts have appeared elsewhere on ‘Nordic Mountain’, and I plan to post translations of the remaining sections in days to come. For those not already familiar with her, Anna Akhmatova was the literary name of Anna Andreyevna Gorenko (1889-1966), one of the most celebrated poets of Russia’s pre-revolutionary Silver Age and of the Soviet period, whose atrocities she chronicled in her work. She is also known for having chosen to remain in Russia after the Revolution, a decision which brought her much hardship but of which she was also very proud, as it enabled her to remain faithful to the land of her birth and to bear witness to the tragedies which engulfed it in the course of her life.

The Muse

How can I live with this burden?
And yet they call her The Muse.
They say: ‘You and she in the meadow…’
They say: ‘Divine babbling…’
More fiercely than a fever she chatters on
And then all year without a word.


Как и жить мне с этой обузой,
А еще называют Музой,
Говорят: «Ты с ней на лугу…»
Говорят: «Божественный лепет…»
Жестче, чем лихорадка, оттреплет,
И опять весь год ни гу-гу.


2 comments on “Tricks of the Trade: The Muse

  1. trewisms says:

    That’s a fantastic picture of AA. I’ve never seen it before.

  2. leifhendrik says:

    It really is extraordinary. Akhmatova was incredibly photogenic at all times, but this photo is especially striking.

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