Born: Anna Andreievna Gorenko in Bolshoi Fontan, near Odessa, Ukraine, 23 June 1889. Education: Educated at girls’ gymnasium, Tsarskoe Selo; Smolnyi Institute, St. Petersburg; Fundukleevskaia gymnasium, 1906, and law school, 1907, both Kiev. Family: Married 1) Nikolai S. Gumilev in 1910 (divorced 1918), one son, the writer Lev Gumilev; 2) Vladimir Shileiko in 1918 (separated 1920, divorced 1928); 3) Nikolai N. Punin (died 1953). Career: Associated with the Acmeist movement whose members included Gumilev, Mandel’shtam, q.v., Gorodetskii, Narbut, and Zenkevich; worked as a librarian, Institute of Agronomy, Petrograd, 1920; banned from publishing her poetry, 1925-40; lived in Leningrad, evacuated to Moscow, 1941, then to Tashkent; returned to Leningrad, 1945; expelled from Union of Soviet Writers, 1946. Awards: Taormina prize, 1964. D.Litt.: Oxford University, 1965. Died: 5 March 1966.



Sochineniia [Works], edited by Gleb Struve and Boris Filippov. 2 vols., 1965-68.

Selected Poems, edited by Walter Arndt, translated by Robin Kemball and Carl R. Proffer. 1976. Stikhi iproza [Poems and Prose] (selections), edited by B.G. Druian. 1977.

Stikhi, perepiska, vospominaniia, ikonografiia [Poems, Correspondence, Reminiscences, Iconography], edited by Ellendea Proffer. 1977.

Sochineniia [Works], edited by V.A. Chernykh. 2 vols., 1986.

The Complete Poems, edited by Roberta Reeder, translated by Judith Hemschemeyer. 2 vols., 1990; revised edition, 1 vol., 1992.

Selected Poems of Anna Akhmatova, translated by Judith Hemschemeyer, 2000.


Vecher [Evening]. 1912.

Chetki [The Rosary]. 1914.

Belaia staia [The White Flock]. 1917.

Skrizhal sbornik [Ecstasy Collection]. 1921.

Podorozhnik [Plantain]. 1921.

Anno Domini MCMXXI. 1922; enlarged edition, 1923.

Forty-Seven Love Poems, translated by Natalie Duddington. 1927.

Stikhi [Poems]. 1940.

Iz shesti knig [From Six Books]. 1940.

Izbrannoe [Selection]. 1943.

Izbrannye stikhi [Selected Poems]. 1946.

Stikhotvoreniia 1909-1945 [Poetry]. 1946.

Stikhotvoreniia 1909-1957 [Poetry], edited by A.A. Surkov. 1958;revised edition, 1965.

Stikhotvoreniia 1909-1960 [Poetry]. 1961.

50 Stikhotvorenii [50 Poems]. 1963.

Rekviem: Tsikl stikhotvorenii. 1963; as Requiem, with Poem Without a Hero, translated by D.M. Thomas, 1976.

Beg vremeni [The Flight of Time]. 1965.

Selected Poems, translated by Richard McKane. 1969; revised edition 1989.

Poems (bilingual edition), edited and translated by Stanley Kunitz and Max Hayward. 1973.

Tale Without a Hero and Twenty-Two Poems, edited and translated by Jeanne van der Eng-Liedmeier and Kees Verheul. 1973.

Way of All the Earth, translated by D.M. Thomas. 1979.

Poems (selection), translated by Lyn Coffin. 1983.

Three Russian Women Poets (with Bella Akhmadulina and Marina Tsvetaeva), edited and translated by Mary Maddock. 1983.

Twenty Poems, translated by Jane Kenyon and Vera Sandomirsky Dunham. 1985.

You Will Hear Thunder, translated by D.M. Thomas, 1985.

Selected Early Love Lyrics (bilingual edition), translated by Jessie Davies. 1988.

Poem Without a Hero and Selected Poems, translated by Lenore Mayhew and William McNaughton. 1989.

Evening: Poems 1912 (bilingual edition), translated by Jessie Davies.1990.

A Stranger to Heaven and Earth: Poems, edited and translated by Judith Hemschemeyer. 1993.


Conversations with Akhmatova 1:1938-1941, edited by Lydia Chukovskaya. 1989.

Anna Akhmatova: My Half Century: Selected Prose, translated by Ronald Meyer. 1992.

The Akhmatova Journals, 1938-1941, by Lydia Chukoskaya, translated by Milena Michalski and Sylva Rubashova. 1993. Anna Akhmatova and Her Circle, compilation and notes by Konstantin Polivanov, translated by Patricia Beriozkina, 1994. Translator, Koreiskaya klassicheskaya poeziya [Korean Classical Poetry], edited by A.A. Kholodovich. 1956.

Translator, with Vera Potapova, Lirika drevnego Egipta [Ancient Egyptian Lyrics]. 1965.

Translator, Golosapoetov [Voices of the Poets]. 1965.

Translator, Klassicheskaia poeziia vostoka [Classical Poetry of the East]. 1969.

Critical Studies:

The Theme of Time in the Poetry of Anna Axmatova by Kees Verheul, 1971; Anna Akhmatova by Sam Driver, 1972; Anna Akhmatova: A Poetic Pilgrimage by Amanda Haight, 1976; Akhmatova’s Petersburg by Sharon Leiter, 1983; The Prince, the Fool and the Nunnery: The Religious Theme in the Early Poetry of Anna Akhmatova by Wendy Rosslyn, 1984, The Speech of Unknown Eyes: Akhmatova’s Readers on Her Poetry edited by Rosslyn, 2 vols., 1990, and Remembering Anna Akhmatova by Anatoli Naiman, translated by Rosslyn, 1991; The Poetry of Anna Akhmatova: A Conquest of Time and Space by Sonia Ketchian, 1986; Anna of All the Russias: The Life of Anna Akhmatova by Jessie Davies, 1988, and Memoirs of Anna Akhmatova’s Years, 1944-1950 by Sophie Kazimirovna Ostrovskaya, translated by Davies, 1988; Anna Akhmatova and Russian Culture of the Beginning of the Twentieth Century: Papers of the Moscow Conference 1989 by V.N. Toporov, 1989; Anna Akhmatova issue of Soviet Literature, 6, 1989; In a Shattered Mirror: The Later Poetry of Anna Akhmatova by Susan Amert, 1992; Anna Akhmatova: Poet and Prophet by Roberta Reeder, 1994; A Concordance to the Poetry of Anna Akhmatova, edited and compiled by Tatiana Patera, 1995; Anna Akhmatova: Her Poetry by David N. Wells, 1996; The Guest from the Future: Anna Achmatova and Isaiah Berlin, by Gyorgy Dalos, translated by Antony Wood, 1998.

Anna Akhmatova occupies a position unique in the history of modern Russian poetry. An established poet before the revolution, she continued her active creative life well into the mid-1960s, and after the death of Pasternak, Akhmatova was the last remaining major link with what had been one of the great ages of Russian poetry.

Her early career was closely associated with Acmeism, a poetic movement which defined itself in opposition to Russian symbolism, stressing craftsmanship in poetry and affirming the significance of this phenomenal world in contradistinction to the abstract ”Other World” of the Symbolists. Akhmatova’s early work was perceived as exemplary for the new movement, and achieved a remarkable popular and critical success. The reading public welcomed the clarity, accessibility, and almost conversational style of her brief, fragile love lyrics, especially after the mystifications and abstractions of the Symbolists. The critics recognized and appreciated Akhmatova’s innovations, her technical accomplishment, and the extraordinary compactness of her verse. By the publication of her fifth book in 1922, an ”Akhmatova style” in Russian poetry was widely recognized.

As a matter of conscious artistic choice, Akhmatova limited her early themes in large part to love, to poetry, and to her homeland. Settings for the predominant love theme are typically drawn from what has traditionally been thought of as the woman’s world: home, interiors, garden, details of decor, and dress. Simple enough in themselves, the images evolve in sum into a complex symbolic system. The otherwise spare and laconic poems are enriched, moreover, by a matrix of images drawn from Russia’s cultural history: folk motifs, the old patriarchal life, Orthodoxy, the great cities of Russia. Related to this matrix, and just below the surface of the worldly love lyrics, are the old Orthodox themes of conscience and remorse, sin and retribution, repentance and self-abnegation. It is such themes that developed in the later major works to an extraordinary power and dignity.

Although Akhmatova maintained a remarkable stylistic consistency throughout her career, it was as early as 1924 that her beloved friend and fellow-poet Mandel’shtam noted a ”sharp break” in Akhmatova’s work: ”The voice of self-abnegation grows stronger in Akhmatova’s poetry, and at present her poetry approaches becoming one of the symbols of the greatness of Russia.” Mandel’shtam’s words were prophetic for Akhmatova’s longer works like Rekviem (Requiem), Poema bez geroia (Poem Without a Hero), and the ”Northern Elegies.”

In the dark years of official disfavour and persecution that followed her former husband’s execution, Akhmatova continued to write, but except for a brief respite during World War II she was not permitted to publish any original poetry. Many of her poems were lost in those tragic years; during the worst of them, many were burned by the poet herself. For a long time, Akhmatova did not dare even to set new poems to paper: the more important ones were committed to memory by her friends and thus preserved.

As works from this period began to appear in the 1950s, it was clear that Akhmatova had undergone an amazing growth and development. The poet emerges as a preserver and continuator of a poetic culture older and broader than the one of her current reality. In the longer works, the poet stands also as conscience and judge for a society suffering under the cataclysms of wars and revolution. Requiem is an epic lament for a Russia in the grip of the Stalinist Terror. Poem Without a Hero is a retrospective of Akhmatova’s own world from Petersburg in 1913 to the nightmare of World War II and beyond. It is her judgement on an age and also her retribution for her own suffering. By the time she added the last touches to the poem in 1962, Akhmatova had become for Russian poetry the very symbol of moral rectitude and artistic integrity in the face of intolerable personal hardship and official persecution. Along with some of the shorter poems, these masterworks stand as tribute to one of the great Russian poets of the 20th century.

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