Anna Akhmatova, Russia, Living Together, Love   Leave a comment


In 1923 Russia, limited living space caused people who would normally choose to live apart to co-habit in small spaces, so Russian poet Anna Akhmatova lived with her new husband, Nikolai Punin, his ex-wife, and his daughter, and continued this arrangement through her divorce from Punin and his remarriage to his third wife who decided that two ex-wives was too many and stayed with her parents. Punin was a professor and art critic. He described his relationship with Akhmatova  from the beginning as “a dark joy and sweet destruction.”  Both of them faced incredible hardships as did most in Russia at this time. Akhmatova said that she nearly starved to death three times in her life. While she was in Moscow searching for ways to free her imprisoned son, the Punin household was evacuated from Leningrad. Punin was dying of dystrophy. When he arrived at the train station with his ex-wife, daughter and granddaughter(third wife stayed behind), Akhmatova greeted them with a bouquet of white flowers. Punin convalesced in a hospital in Samarkand and below is some of the letter he wrote to Akhmatova. It is an amazing letter that she cherished.

Hello,  Anya,

I am definitely grateful for your concern and touched by it-I have not deserved it… The realization that I am still alive brings me to a rapturous state and I call this–the feeling of happiness. Moreover, when I was dying… I also felt that rapturous happiness. At that time particularly I thought a lot about you. This was because in the intensity of the spiritual experience I was going through there was something… akin to the feeling alive in me in the twenties when I was with you. It seemed to me, that for the first time I understood you so fully and comprehensively and it was just because it was so completely unselfish, as I, of course, did not expect ever to see you again. It was really a meeting and farewell before death. And it seemed to me that I knew of no other person whose life was so whole and therefore so perfect as yours, from your first childish poems…to the prophetic murmur, and at the same time, roar, of the Poema. I thought then that this life, was perfect not through will, but-this seemed to me to be particularly precious-through its organic wholeness, that is, its inevitability, which seems somehow not to have anything to do with you. Now I cannot express all that I thought then, but a great deal of what I could not forgive in you stood before me, not only forgiven, but something right and wonderful.

The above information comes from the book The Word That Causes Death’s Defeat” Poems of Memory. Translated with introduction, biography, critical essays and commentary by Nancy K. Anderson

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Posted March 29, 2011 by strongjacksonpoet54 in Uncategorized

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