She tells how Akhmatova would write out her poem for a visitor on a scrap of paper to be read in a moment, then burnt in her stove. The poems were carefully disseminated in this way, but it is likely that many compiled in this manner were lost. A ritual beautiful and bitter. In , Akhmatova started her Poem without a Hero, finishing a first draft in Tashkent , but working on "The Poem" for twenty years and considering it to be the major work of her life, dedicating it to "the memory of its first audience — my friends and fellow citizens who perished in Leningrad during the siege".

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Search more than 3, biographies of contemporary and classic poets. Her interest in poetry began in her youth, but when her father found out about her aspirations, he told her not to shame the family name by becoming a "decadent poetess". He forced her to take a pen name, and she chose the last name of her maternal great-grandmother. She attended law school in Kiev and married Nikolai Gumilev, a poet and critic, in Shortly after the marriage, he travelled to Abyssinia, leaving her behind.

While Gumilev was away, Akhmatova wrote many of the poems that would be published in her popular first book, Evening. Her son Lev was also born in He was raised by his paternal grandmother, who disliked Akhmatova. Akhmatova protested this situation, but her husband supported his family. She would visit with her son during holidays and summer. Later, Akhmatova would write that "motherhood is a bright torture. I was not worthy of it. Her second book, Rosary , was critically acclaimed and established her reputation.

With her husband, she became a leader of Acmeism, a movement which praised the virtues of lucid, carefully-crafted verse and reacted against the vagueness of the Symbolist style which dominated the Russian literary scene of the period. She and Gumilev divorced in Akhmatova married twice more, to Vladimir Shileiko in , whom she divorced in , and Nikolai Punin, who died in a Siberian labor camp in The writer Boris Pasternak , who was already married, had proposed her numerous times.

Nikolai Gumilev was executed in by the Bolsheviks, and, although Akhmatova and he were divorced, she was still associated with him. During this time, Akhmatova devoted herself to literary criticism, particularly of Pushkin, and translations. In , a collection of previously published poems, From Six Books, was published. A few months later it was withdrawn. Her son, Lev, was arrested in and held in jail until To try to win his release, Akhmatova wrote poems in praise of Stalin and the government, but it was of no use.

Later she requested that these poems not appear in her collected works. She began writing and publishing again in , but with heavy censorship. Young poets like Joseph Brodsky flocked to her. To them, she represented a link with the pre-Revolutionary past which had been destroyed by the Communists.

Though Akhmatova was frequently confronted with official goverment opposition to her work during her lifetime, she was deeply loved and lauded by the Russian people, in part because she did not abandon her country during difficult political times. Her most accomplished works, Requiem which was not published in its entirety in Russia until and Poem Without a Hero, are reactions to the horror of the Stalinist Terror, during which time she endured artistic repression as well as tremendous personal loss.

In she was awarded the Etna-Taormina prize and an honorary doctorate from Oxford University in Her journeys to Sicily and England to receive these honors were her first travels outside Russia since Akhmatova died in Leningrad, where she had spent most of life, in A Selected Bibliography.


Anna Akhmatova



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