The Tuesday Poem: “July 1914” by Anna Akhmatova
All month a smell of burning, of dry peat
smouldering in the bogs.
Even the birds have stopped singing,
the aspen does not tremble.
The god of wrath glares in the sky,
the fields have been parched since Easter.
A one-legged pilgrim stood in the yard
with his mouth full of prophecies:
“Beware of terrible times… the earth
opening for a crowd of corpses.
Expect famine, earthquakes, plagues,
and heavens darkened by eclipses.
“But our land will not be divided
by the enemy at his pleasure:
the Mother-of-God will spread
a white shroud over these great sorrows.”
an excerpt from July 1914 by Anna Akhmatova, 1889-1996
This year being the centenary of the start of WW1, I have been looking at war poetry from the period and also trying to look beyond the UK poets I am most familiar with. One of the more impressive voices has to be Russian poet, Anna Akhmatova—not least because poems such as “July 1914” suggest she had a clear idea of what was coming. I have only posted an excerpt, but I definitely think searching out her poetry will repay your effort.
Meanwhile, you know the drill: to check out the featured poem on the Tuesday Poem Hub and other great poems from fellow Tuesday poets from around the world, click here or on the Quill icon in the sidebar.