To Be or Not to Be

Russian Poetry
Anna Akhmatova (you will hear thunder and remember me)
Called Queen of Neva
Born in Odessa Ukraine in 1889. Unhappy childhood and her parents divorced in 1905. She started to write poetry at age 11. Adopted the surname of her maternal great grandmother as a pseudonym. Known by some as half nun, half harlot. She was nicknamed so by one of Stalin’s men. Many male Russian poets liked her, and she married Nikolai Gumilev, another poet, in 1910. Gumilev did not take her work seriously. They had a son named Lev in 1912. Her first poetry collection, EVENING, was published in 1912 as well. Some said there were similarities in the collection to Robert Browning and Thomas Hardy.
Rosary was the second collection, and was published in 1914. Women started to write poems for her and in her honor. She and her husband became part of the Silver Age along with other musicians and artists in the first 2 decades of the 20th Century. She and her husband became the leaders of ACMEISM, a poetic movement which preferred the virtues of Classicism, firmness, structure, to apocalyptic haze and ideological preoccupations of Blok and other Symbolists.
Gumilev was executed in 1921 for anti Soviet activities. They had been divorced three years prior. Her published works were banned between 1923-1940.   All through this time, she always refused to leave Russia.
Her son was arrested, released, arrested again and sent to the labor camps. Released in 1956 after Stalin’s death.   She was expelled from the Writers Union and was followed everywhere by two secret police agents. Some of her work was published after Stalin’s death, and died in 1966 at age 76. 5K people crowded her Requiem mass in Leningrad. She was very appreciated in Russia for never having left.   She said it was to “bear witness” of Russia. She did not flee during the Revolution.
“Her womanliness is essential of her poetic genius – something added not taken away. Unusual blending of classical severity and...