Anna Akhmatova, 1922 Anna Akhmatova, the fifties Anna Akhmatova, the sixties

Anna Akhmatova

Encounter with Anna Akhmatova

My mother met the great Russian poet in Moscow, just on her trip back from Georgia, when the unknown past opened before her with the mystery revealed, with the re-born emotion. Here and there she slightly mentioned about what had happened to her in Georgia. And then someone that heard that story, came with a conclusion: “Anna Andreevna must listen to it!”. And introduced Natalia to Anna Akh­ma­to­va[1]. First lady of the russian poetry was already able to move to Moscow, the ban of traveling and staying in Moscow for her was canceled just a few years earlier.

Natalia remembered nothing from the house but the beautiful old icon that didn't have a silver cover — it was, as she said, a replica of Kazakh Madonna, some old pictures in stylish silver frames and armchairs where they were sitting by the small round table. The tea was served and conversation went around poetry and Natalia's trip to Georgia.

What else I had noted from my mother's stories? At the beginning Akhmatova seemed to be insolent and abrupt, but as time passed, Natalia made the atmosphere more open and sincere. Suddenly Anna Andreevna, while talking on Gałczyński said, that: “I know, that Josif Brodsky, our very talented young poet, is learning polish to be able to translate Polish poets. I heard his translation of your's husband poem about flags. This was beautiful poem.“

And then begun an ordinary conversation of two women. Natalia told about her trip to Georgia, about discovery of her father's traces, whom she treated as dead for almmost forty years… This was sufficient enough that great poet, treated so cruelly by the fate, has left her insolence to recall her great poem about horrible Yezhov years, titled by herself as Requiem, written between 1935 and 1940 and her confession that precedes that poem. Later Natalia frequently cited that confession any time she watched the beautiful picture of Anna Akhmatova: “In the horrible Yezhov years I spent seventeen months standing in the queues outside the Leningrad prison…”.

Her son, Lev Nikolayevitsch Gumilyov was arrested only because of that, that he was the son of Akhmatova and his father, Nikolay Gumilyov[2], great poet was executed in 1921. Father was sentenced to death, because he was "white" aristocrate, he hate the bolshevik overthrow that just had happened. On the top of that, he was a great poet writing with reluctance about the revolution. “In Petersburg, after deaths of Blok[3] and Gumilyov, there was no air to breathe”, Anna Andreevna said quietly.

At the end of the conversation, Natalia got a beautiful pitcure, “silvery” and full of light. It showed a lady, with gray hair and shawl on her shoulder. In the background birch trees are standing and wooden fence. She is not watching into the camera, her eyes are looking down as if wandering far away along with her thoughts. On the reverse side, Akhmatova wrote a dedication: “For Natalia Gałczyńska in the memory of her Moscow days — Akhmatova, 8th of November, 1962”.

[KIRA GAŁCZYŃSKA, Srebrna Natalia]

See picture of Anna Akhmatova

See the dedication written by Anna Akhmatova

  1. Anna Akhmatova, Wikipedia source.
  2. Nikolay Gumilyov, Wikipedia source.
  3. Alexander Blok, Wikipedia source.