Thursday, 20 December 2007

anna akhmatova

I Don't Know If You're Alive Or Dead

I don't know if you're alive or dead.
Can you on earth be sought,
Or only when the sunsets fade
Be mourned serenely in my thought?

All is for you: the daily prayer,
The sleepless heat at night,
And of my verses, the white
Flock, and of my eyes, the blue fire.

No-one was more cherished, no-one tortured
Me more, not
Even the one who betrayed me to torture,
Not even the one who caressed me and forgot.


Sorlil said...

Interesting, I have the complete Akhmatova by Judith Hemschemeyer. She translates this poem rather differently:

'I don't know if you're living or
whether to look for you here on earth
or only in evening meditation,
when we grieve serenly for the dead.

Everything is for you: my daily prayer,
and the thrilling fever of the insomniac,
and the blue fire of my eyes,
and my poems, that white flock.

No one was more intimate with me,
no one made me suffer so,
not even the one who consigned me to torment,
not even the one who caressed and forgot.'

I prefer this translation as it is not constrained by trying to preserve the end-rhymes.

swiss said...

i agree, that does hold together nicely. don't know who did the translation for this, or the osip mandelstam, for that matter. for some reason i don't seem to have recorded it

translation tho! opens up a whole load of possibilites, or the purchase of a whole load more books

KUBLA KHAN said...

I agree with Sorlil....this version is beautiful.

Anonymous said...

i prefer the first translation, this one doesn't feel as tortured though it is more beautiful