Anna Ahmatova, Portrait by Olga Kardovskaya, 1914


Anna Ahmatova lived during the tragic times of Communist repressions that affected many freethinkers and those who refused to adhere to the double standard of “Soviet art”. Born to an aristocratic family of traditional Russian Intelligentsia, Ahmatova experienced drastic fluctuations in her social status during the Soviet regime. As a result, many of her friends turned their back to her in fear of associating with an “anti-Soviet subject”. She widely explored themes of loneliness and humble acceptance of adversity in her poetry, which I can relate to in my present situation. The poem was featured in the 1976 movie "Irony of Fate" as a song performed by Barbara Brilska, voice by Alla Pugachova. Enjoy the song here. In my translation, I tried to make the song available for the performance in English.

Note for the musitians and performers. Please follow the current copyright law and cite as follows:

Translation by Svetlana Gulotta
With help of Leo Schwartzberg

Down My Street


It’s been a while since year after year
I’ve listened to the steps of my friend’s departure.
My dear friends took long to disappear;
The night was pleased with our attachment’s fracture.

Oh, Loneliness, your nature is so coarse!
Just like the coldest dazzling metal compass,
You close the circle following its course,
While deeming all my pleadings to be worthless.

Let me tiptoe in your enchanted woods,
And at the end of slow motion gesture,
I’ll kiss the fallen leaves and face the bliss
Of an orphan at a solitary venture.

Bless me with silence of your libraries,
And with strict order of your classic concerts,
Enlighten me, so I forget the need
To be with friends before the pain worsens.

Then I will grow wise and so serene,
While things revealing their deepest meaning,
By nature’s grace in most sincere embrace
The world will share with me its secret feelings.

And then, from tears, from darkness and despair,
From poverty and ignorance of past days,
My dear friends’ illuminated shapes
Would come back, and again, disappear...
2021

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