Anna Akhmatova

(23 June 1889 – 5 March 1966 / Odessa)

Muse - Poem by Anna Akhmatova

When, in the night, I wait for her, impatient,
Life seems to me, as hanging by a thread.
What just means liberty, or youth, or approbation,
When compared with the gentle piper's tread?

And she came in, threw out the mantle's edges,
Declined to me with a sincere heed.
I say to her, 'Did you dictate the Pages
Of Hell to Dante?' She answers, 'Yes, I did.'

Comments about Muse by Anna Akhmatova

  • Fabrizio Frosini (6/7/2015 3:46:00 AM)


    Когда я ночью жду ее прихода,
    Жизнь, кажется, висит на волоске.
    Что почести, что юность, что свобода
    Пред милой гостьей с дудочкой в руке.
    И вот вошла. Откинув покрывало,
    Внимательно взглянула на меня.
    Ей говорю: “Ты ль Данте диктовала
    Страницы Ада? ” Отвечает: “Я”.

    - - -
    This is the text translated literally in English by Galina Italyanskaya:


    When at night I wait for her coming,
    Life seems to be hanging by a thread.
    What do honors, youth and freedom mean
    Before the lovely guest with a flute in her hand.

    And here she came in, put off the vail,
    Looked at me intently.
    I say to her: 'Was it you who dictated the Pages
    Of Hell to Dante? ' She answers, 'It was me.'
    (Report) Reply

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  • Fabrizio Frosini (6/6/2015 4:47:00 PM)

    La Musa

    Quando la notte attendo il suo arrivo,
    la vita sembra essere appesa a un filo.
    Cosa valgono libertà, giovinezza, onori
    di fronte all’ospite leggiadro col flauto nella mano..
    Ed ecco è arrivata. Tolto il velo,
    mi guarda attentamente.
    Le chiedo: “Dettasti tu a Dante
    I versi dell’Inferno? ” E lei: “Si”.
    (Report) Reply

  • Fabrizio Frosini (6/6/2015 6:49:00 AM)

    I prefer the following translation (in poetryfoundation) :

    The Muse

    All that I am hangs by a thread tonight
    as I wait for her whom no one can command.
    Whatever I cherish most —youth, freedom, glory—
    fades before her who bears the flute in her hand.

    And look! she comes.. she tosses back her veil,
    staring me down, serene and pitiless.
    Are you the one, I ask, whom Dante heard dictate
    the lines of his Inferno? She answers: Yes.

    Anna Akhmatova (1924)
    (Report) Reply

    (2/9/2016 2:35:00 AM)

    Are you the one, I ask, whom Dante heard dictate the lines of his Inferno? She answers: Yes.

    I think this is translated incorrectly, (despite the fame of its translators) . Consider what would have happened had the muse answered in the negative? A new question would arise Well, who was it then that Dante heard dictate the lines of his Inferno? The original, in my opinion, only allows for the author to be the muse or Dante, but this translation fails to exclude a third party. Here is my interpretation:

    I ask: Did you dictate to Dante the pages of his Inferno? She answers: I did.

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, April 8, 2010

Poem Edited: Thursday, March 1, 2012

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