Tuesday, June 25, 2013

TUESDAY POEM | Why Then Do We Not Despair? by Anna Akhmatova

                            Why then do we not despair?

                            Everything is plundered, betrayed, sold
                            Death's great black wing scrapes the air,
                            misery gnaws to the bone.
                            Why then do we not despair?

                            By day, from the surrounding woods,
                            cherries blow summer into town;
                            at night the deep transparent skies
                            glitter with new galaxies.

                            And the miraculous comes so close
                            to the ruined, dirty houses--
                            something not known to anyone at all,
                            but wild in our breasts for centuries.

                            Anna Akhmatova
                                                   (Translated by Stanley Kunitz.)

Thank you, Rebecca, for posting this poem over on your blog a day or two ago; as poems do, it turned up at just the right time.

This week's editor on the TP hub is Tim Jones
with Oh, Dirty River

And in other writerly news, Tuesday Poem curator Mary McCallum's story Dead Space was one of the prize winners in the 2013 National Flash Fiction competition. . . and Rachel van Blankenship's story Dear Phoenix was placed 4th in the International Flash Mob section of the same comp. Congrats to you both, and to all who entered. Michelle Elvy (one of our TP-ers) is to be lauded for her zeal in organising these events; no matter that she's on the other side of the world from NZ at the moment! 


  1. This is a lovely poem Claire- I love the idea of cherries b lowing summer into town... so Dunedin!

  2. This is perfect. Today I had just these thoughts - maybe not as eloquent but the same sense. I was able to go outside, face to the sun and throw a ball for the dog. Take dry towels off the line. In the face of things bleak the wind and sun today worked small miracles.

  3. A thoughtful and insightful poem.... I like " and the miraculous comes so close".... this is the wonder of our world... ruin and wonder side by side.

  4. gorgeous. so appropriate for our times: everything is plundered. and yet...

  5. "In spite of everything" are the words that sometimes come to me. Moments, no more than that, of the sunken heart. Always the duality, the ruin and wonder, miracles in every size and category. This is a dizzying business, a fine, apt poem. Thank you. xo

  6. I've read this poet's work before. I like her lyricism. Nice accompanying photo. Has a certain melancholy that the Russian writers do so well.

  7. (As usual, I'm late to this party....)

    I'm new to this poem, and it is the perfect companion piece to the Edward Byrne quote in the post directly after this one.