Bella Akhmadulina
Selected Verses
A Book of Poetry (in Russian)
    Bella Akhmadulina (Izabella Akhatovna Akhmadulina) is a famous Russian poet, translator, esseist. She was born in Moscow on April 10, 1937.  
    First marriage - Yevgeny Yevtushenko (1954); second - Youri Nagibin (1960). Since 1974 she has been married to famous Russian artist Boris Messerer.  
    Bella Akhmadulina's poetry was first published in 1954. In 1960 she graduated from the Gorky Literary Institute.

      Bella Akhmadulina's poetry books: 
  • "Struna" ('String'), Moscow - 1962 
  • "Oznob" ('Fever'), Frankfurt - 1968 
  • "Uroki Muzyki" ('Lessons of Muzic') - 1969 
  • "Stikhi" ('Verses') - 1975
  • "Svecha" ('Candle') - 1977 
  • "Sny o Gruzii" ('Dreams of Georgia') - 1978-1979 
  • "Metell" ('Snow-Storm') - 1977 
  • "Taina" ('Secret') - 1983 
  • "Sad" ('The Garden') - 1987 
  • "Stikhotvorenie" ('A Verse') - 1988 
  • "Izbrannoye" ('Selections') - 1988 
  • "Stikhi" ('Verses') - 1988 
  • "Poberezhye" ('A Coast') - 1991 
  • "Larets i Kliutch" ('Casket and Key') - 1994 
  • "Shum Tishiny" ('A Noise of Silence'), Jerusalem - 1995 
  • "Gryada Kamnei" ('A Ridge of Stones') - 1995 
  • "Samye Moi Stikhi" ('Very Mine Verses') - 1995 
  • "Zvuk Ukazuyushchiy" ('A Guiding Sound') - 1995 
  • "Odnazhdy v Dekabre" ('Sometime in December') - 1996 
    Bella Akhmadulna translated into the Russian language poetry of poets from France, Italy, Chekhia, Poland, Jugoslavia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Georgia, Armenia and many other.  

    Bella Akhmadulina is Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Literature (1977)  

    Laureate of the following Prizes: 

    • State Prize Laureate (1989)
    • "Nosside" (Italy, 1992)
    • "Independent" (Triumph, 1993)
    • "Pushkin" (Germany, 1994)
    In 1984 Bella was honoured with the Order of "Friendship of Peoples" (1984) 

Akhmadulina's poerty was translated into many World languages, including the following:

  • "Poems" (Feber and other New Poems, NY, 1969) 
  • "The Garden", NY, 1990
    • Sloven
  • "Hodina Hudby", 1972
    • German
  • "Musicstunden", Berlin, 1974
  • "Das Gerausch, Das Verlusts", Leipzig, 1995
    • Serbo-Croatian
  • "Groznitsa"
    • Italian
  • "Tenerezza", Parma, 1971 "Poesia Scalte", Roma, 193
    • Hebrew
  • "Skazka o Dozhde" ('A Tale about Rain'), Rshaphim, 1974
    • Slovak
  • "Moj Rodokmen", Bratislava, 1966 
    • Romanian
  • "Lumina si Ceata", Bucharest, 1983
    • Check
  • "Struna", Prague, 1966
  • "Stoy u Kpvi", Prague, 1979
    • Polish
  • "Wyjsc na Scene", Krakow, 1987
  • "Efterarsuret", Husets Forlag, 1988
    • Bulgarian
  • "Izbrani Stikhotvoreniya", Sofia, 1968
  • Bella Akhmadulina's poetry was also translated into Danish, Latvian, Estonian, Georgian, Moldavian, Armenian and many other languages.
    The Garden
    I went out to the garden - but in garden,
    the word, lies lush luxuriance.
    As geogeous as a full blown rose,
    it enriches sound and scent and glance.
    The word is wider than what surrounds me:
    inside it all is well and free;
    its rich black soil makes sons and daughters
    of orphaned and transplanted seeds.
    Seeding of dark innovations,
    O garden, word, you are gardener,
    who to the clipper's gleam and clutter
    increase and spread the fruits you bear.
    Set within your free-and easy
    space are an old estate and the fate
    of a family long gone, and the faded
    whiteness of their garden bench.
    You are more fertile than the earth:
    you feed the roots of other's crowns.
    From oak to oakwood, Oakboy, you are
    heart's mail, and word's - the love, the blood.
    Your shady grove is always darkened,
    but why did a lovelorn parasol
    of lace look down in embarrassment
    in the face of hot weather coming on?
    Perhaps I, who guest for a limp hand,
    redden my own knees on the stones?
    a casual and impowerished gardener,
    what do I seek? Where do I tend?
    If I had gone out, where would I really
    have gone? It's May - and solid mud.
    I went out to a ruined wasteland
    and it read that life was dead.
    Dead! Gone! Where had it hurried to ?
    It merely tasted the dried up agony
    of speachless lips and then reported:
    all things forever; only a moment for me.
    For a moment in which I could not manage
    to either self or garden clearly.
    "I went out to the garden" was what I wrote.
    I did? Well, then, there must be
    something to it? There is - and amazing
    how going to the garden takes no move.
    I did not go out at all. I simply wrote the
    way I usually do,
    "I went out to the garden..."
    The Photograph
      Smiling nervously but brightly, 
      conscious of her youth and fame, 
      she set the way that she was asked to 
      indifferently - or playing games.
      Under heaven's dome's eternal childhood  
      April nineteen hundred twelve 
      has promised her in Ospedaletti 
      only prosperity and sun
      She looks out from a lacy nimbus, 
      her hands folded in her lap. 
      The shadow of her future torments 
      lies locked inside her photo's trap.
      Coalesced with that sweet April - 
      read Aprille - wet and warm, 
      like amber that has petrified, 
      she will abide unharmed.
      When the age comes to its end 
      some late-arriving sleuth will find 
      that tender, craggy profile preserved 
      forever in a clot of light.
      How calm, facete the well-dressed lady 
      in whose clear-cut tone and look 
      the signs of talent show as easy 
      as the title of a book.
      Who asked her for a present of 
      this dolefule commentary framed 
      on paper without a pencil mark,  
      this forehead, and this fringe of bangs?
      What's in her portrait for herself? 
      She gives a shrug: please yourselves! 
      And paints a picture - Ospedaletti, 
      April nineteen hundred twelve.
      How fresh, still early here on earth! 
      O morrow, let her have more time! 
      Wait until she's done, signs "Anna 
      Akhmatova" on the last line.
    Features of an Artist's Studio
    for Boris Messerer
      O future guest, guest most gentle!  
      Beneath this dear sublunar roof, 
      which only the unending bottom  
      of the All-mighty haze surmounts,  
      where from their pulpit four Victrolas 
      train their lordly eyes on you,  
      rejoice and sing to times a-passing,  
      to all Victrolas and me, too! 

      Better not think about  
      the unimaginable distance 
      I'm these days! Who's spare a penny 
      for a candle for my soul 
      since I can't entertain your party 
      with a sepulchral joke of two 
      and, unlike Virgil the Omniscient, 
      am not at the door to welcome you? 

      Come into the fantastic house 
      where daily life is universal,  
      where things and people are familiar 
      with a sudden shudder of forever 
      and the splash of little silver hearts 
      mysteriously sends signals through 
      about the drafts from outer space 
      to guests who used to sit here, too. 

      At the feet that mounted Calvary, 
      trust in the words I say to you 
      and guide yourself upstairs slowly 
      past the sixth floor, singing praises 
      to every doodad and gilhickey, 
      revere the fantasticality 
      of things, and don't let the barrel organ's 
      childlike spirit be scared of you. 

      Perhaps the sunset's in the window, 
      or the music box in shedding tears, 
      or for the Mournful Specter of the North 
      yellow stands on end among the gray- 
      long may the house, like a lost balloon, 
      flutter over Boredom Valley 
      so you, O artless guest of mine, 
      may reach this strange land in the sky.

      I had not been back for many years. 
      I often dreamed of foreign lands and faces 
      of people I once loved, the people who 
      were taken from me and from their native place.  

      There has never been the time to dream beyond 
      the horizon - but then yesterday I did. 
      On waking here, I thought: in no way strange 
      that soul should fly from body like a bird. 

      I have bartered you for this, friends 
      of a plundered heart picked clean as bone. 
      The sun joined you (my yesterday went out) 
      across the Oka in a forest dark like stone. 

      Night after night your tears saw me in Tarusa, 
      which for us both was the same as the real thing. 
      They found me there and did not go away: 
      the sweeter the dream, the harsher the awakening. 

      Now here is a new down, a day I send 
      to keep you up-to-date on how my heart breaks 
      every time I cross the snow and ice 
      of the chasm and dark forest that lie between us. 

      Look: I am walking into Ladyzhino. 
      The charms and catastrophes of home are plain. 
      O Aunty Manya, take pity on me, forgive 
      me everything I said and did not say. 

      You look embittered; your house is but a hovel; 
      my friends were taken from you, too, one night. 
      And still you say, "Don't be so miserable." 
      Oh, heart contains more misery than might. 

      Snow outside. An ikon, bench and table - 
      I hide my inside hell behind my sleeve. 
      "Ah, angel, welcome one, my prodigal, 
      no weeping, no laments." I lament and weep.

    The Hospital Christmas Tree
      They have set a Christmas tree up in a hospital ward. 
      It clearly feels out of place in a cloister of suffering. 
      The moon over Leningrad comes to my window ledge 
      but does not stay long - many windows, much waiting. 

      The moon moves on to a spry, independent old woman; 
      outside you can hear the sussurous sound of her trying 
      to hide from her neighbors and from her own shallow sleep 
      her breaking the norm - the blunder of illegal crying. 

      All the patients are worse; still, it is a Christmas Eve. 
      Tomorrow will some get news; some gifts; some, calls. 
      Life and death remain neighbors: the stretcher is always loaded; 
      through the long night the elevator squeaks as it falls. 

      Rejoice eternally, Virgin! You bore the Child at night. 
      There is no other reason for hope, but that matters so much, 
      is so huge, so eternally endless, that it 
      consoles the unknown, underground anchorite. 

      Even here in the ward where the tree makes some people cry 
      (did not want it; a nurse, in fact, ordered it brought) 
      the listening heart beats, and you hear people say, " 
      Hey, look! The Star of Bethlehem's in the sky!" 

      The only sure facts are the cattle's lament in the shred, 
      the Wise Men's haste, the inexperienced mother's elbow 
      marking The Child with a miraculous spot on His brow. 
      All the rest is absurd, an age-old but fugitive lie. 

      What matters more or brings more joy to sick flesh 
      wasted by work and by war than so simple a scene? 
      But they reproach you for drinking or some other fault 
      and stuff your brain with the bones of a system picked clean. 

      I watched the day begin breaking some time past nine; 
      it was a drop, a black light shining absurdly 
      onto the window. People dream that they heard 
      a little toy bell-ringer ringing the bell on the tree. 

      The day as it downed was week, not much of a sight. 
      The light was paler than pink, pastel, not harsh, 
      the way an amethyst shimmers on a young girl's neck. 
      All looked down, once they had seen the sad, humble cross. 

      And when they arose, reluctantly opening their eyes, 
      a trolley flew by through the snowstorm, gold trim inside it. 
      They crowded the window like children: "Hey, look at that car! 
      Like a perch that's gotten away, all speckled with fire!" 

      They sat down for breakfast; they argued, got tired, lay down. 
      The view from the window was such that Leningrad's secrets 
      and splendors brought tears to my eyes, filled me with love. 
      "Isn't there something you want?" "No, there's nothing." 

      I have long been accused of making frivolous things. 
      Frivolity maker, I look at those here around me: 
      O Mother of God, have mercy! And beg your Son, too. 
      On the day of His birth, pray and weep for us each.

    Raphael's Day
      Newcomer Day, don't stop on the rosy hill!  
      Don't let the down treat your features rudely. 
      Why deign come down to the gullies and to me? 
      I recognize you. You're straight from Urbino. 

      Divinity Day, go back to your Italy, 
      It's winter here. People are screwing around. 
      A hunchback filled with envy, I look at you 
      and my hidden rage kisses the hem of your gown. 

      On top of pock-marked cheeks and chest rotting in, 
      my brush is silly and the colors won't behave. 
      Perfection Day, get out! Away from sin! 
      Here shepherdesses' vests conceal sharp knives. 

      But the God-like Day kept watching tenderly, 
      and brother said to brother, "Good brother, hello!" 
      For the time in years, the Saint's Day festival 
      Of three neighboring villages didn't end in blows. 

      Unknown, it left - Raphael's Day, Day of Light - 
      but a dead oak in the open valley blossomed; 
      above us blessed sun turned rose; all night 
      pilgrims made the sign of the cross among the ruins.