Home > poets > The road is black by the beach (from White Flock by Anna Akhmatova)

The road is black by the beach (from White Flock by Anna Akhmatova)

The road is black by the beach –
Garden. Lamps yellow and fresh.
I’m very calm.
I’d rather not talk about him.
 
I’ve a lot of feeling for you. You’re kind.
We’ll kiss, grow old, walk around.
Light months will fly over us
Like snowy stars.
 

That is the poem in full, somewhere at the beginning of the ‘White Flock’ cycle. Interesting are the many oppositions that structure its content, or to put it differently, define its form. It makes it endurable to read a poem by a Russian poetess – famed for her play with rhyme and verse – in an English translation that at least part of the form shines through in translation: the part that concerns oppositions.

‘The road is black by the beach – Garden’: the blackness of the road (It is night or at least evening – otherwise there would be no lamps) versus the colours of a garden.

‘I’d rather not talk about him’ versus ‘I’ve a lot of feeling for you. You’re kind. We’ll kiss, grow old, walk around. Light months will fly over us’ Who that ‘him’ is I cannot deduce from this poem but decidedly it is not the person she loves.

Finally ‘Like snowy stars’. Stars are not exactly snowy…

Besides structuring the poem, oppositions are a good way to clarify something’s importance. The feeling for ‘you’ would never be what it is without a ‘him’ around.

Must be nice to speak Russian.

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