The Akhmatova Journals by Lydia Chukovskya
Lydia Chokovskya, Akhmatova's close friend, kept intimate diaries of her life and conversations with her. First published in Russia in 1987, this intimate insight into the daily life and sufferings of Akhmatova, as well as of those around her, is ' illuminating both of horror and of genius. '
The book ends with a long section containing poems by Akhmatova, those without which, as Chukovskya says, 'my entries would be hard to understand.'
The Cellar of Memory
But it's arrant nonsense that I live in sadness
And that remembrance nags at me.
Not often am I guest of memory,
And it always leaves me confused.
When I go down with a lantern to the cellar
It seems to me once more a landslip
Thunders down the narrow stairway after me.
The lantern smokes, I cannot now return,
But I know I go there to the enemy.
And I pray as if for mercy.....But there
It's dark and quiet. My feast day has come to an end!
Thirty years have gone since bidding the ladies farewell,
That joker is dead from old age.....
I have come too late. As if it matters!
I may not show myself anywhere,
But on the walls I touch the paintings
And by the fire I warm myself. Is that not a miracle?
Through this mould, these fumes, this dust
Two sparkling emeralds flashed,
And a cat mewed. Well, let's go home!
But where is my home, and where my reason?