This title features an introduction by Carol Ann Duffy. Anna Akhmatova is one of the most accomplished and well loved poets Russia has ever produced. Her moving and passionate writing has won her an ardent readership all over the world. This selection, beautifully translated by poet and novelist D.M. Thomas, illustrates her broad scope and brilliant imaginative gifts. It covers both her earlier work and the poems she produced during her persecution by the Russian authorities.
Anna Akhmatova was born on 23 June 1889 in Odessa and grew up in Tsarskoe Selo, the imperial summer residence outside St Petersburg. Her parents separated in 1905 and she moved with her mother and siblings to the Crimea. She published her first poems in 1907. In 1910 she married the poet Nikolai Gumilev, the founder of the Acmeist school of poetry. Her collections of poetry Evening (1912), Rosary (1914), White Flock (1917), Plantain (1921) and Anno Domini MCMXXI (1921) were published to great acclaim. She and Gumilev had a son, Lev, in 1912 and divorced in 1918. Gumilev was executed for conspiracy by the Bolshevik authorities in 1921 and after this Akhmatova was treated as an enemy of the state. None of her poetry was published between 1922 and 1940 and her son was arrested and imprisoned three times between 1934 and 1956. From Six Books was published in 1940 but in 1946 she was expelled from the Union of Writers and her next major collection, The Flight of Time, did not appear until 1965. Anna Akhmatova died on 5 March 1966 and her requiem mass was attended by over five thousand mourners.