“Akhmatova’s example reminds us that while it is true that the writer cannot change the world alone, the world cannot change itself without her.”
Margaret Holly, poet, The San Francisco Jung Institute Library Journal
“Anna Akmatova is one of the best–known Soviet poets.”
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Anna Akhmatova (1889–1966) was part of that magnificent and in many ways tragic generation of Russian artists which came to first maturity before 1917, and which then had to come to terms with official discouragement and often persecution. As D.M. Thomas points out in his introduction, practically none of her poetry was published between 1923 and 1940. Her poetic range was wide, from the transparent anonymity of “Requiem” to the symphonic complexity of “Poem without a Hero.” She was revered and loved not only by the best of her fellow poets but by the ordinary people of Russia: five thousand mourners, mostly the young, crowded to her requiem mass in a Leningrad church.
You Will Hear Thunder brings together for the first time all D.M. Thomas’s translations of Anna Akhmatova’s poems. They were very highly praised on their separate appearances in 1976 and 1979. John Bayley called them “a mastery achievement,” and said of Thomas that “he has profound reverence and affection for the original;” while Donald David wrote that Thomas’s translation was “The first version to explain to me why Akhmatova was so much esteemed by those great poets, Pasternak and Mandelstam and Tsvetaeva.” It is good to have these powerful, noble and compassionate poems in one set of covers.
Anna Akhmatova (1889–1966) is an iconic figure of twentieth-century Russian literature and one of her era’s great poets. Her work has been translated into many languages.
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Lucien Stryk’s poetry is made of simple things—frost on a windowpane at morning, ducks moving across a pond, a neighbor’s fuss over his lawn—set into language that is at once direct and powerful. Years of translating Zen poems and religious texts have helped give Stryk a special sense of the particular, a feel for those details which, because they are so much a part of our lives, seem to define us.
This unique collection of poems, translated by more than forty major contemporary American poets, grew out of a project of the Poetry Center of the New York YMHA supported by the Bollingen Foundation and under the direction of Miss Elizabeth Kray. The purpose was two-fold: “to stimulate the art of translation” and to open “the flow of foreign poetry into native English current.”
Yves Bonnefoy is probably the most prominent figure in the generation of French poets who came into public view following World War II. Dedicated to poetry more as a means of spiritual illumination than as a technique for creating artistic monuments, he uses what he conceives to be the brokenness and poverty of language to enable us to glimpse a wholeness lacking in our contemporary world.