Anna Akhmatova: "They're not my kin who left the land" (From Russian)

If you speak Russian, then know that yes I do realize how much liberty I took with the last two lines. What can I say: English morphosyntax gives poetry different constraints than Russian.

On Not Emigrating
By Anna Akhmatova
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

They're not my kind who left the land
To enemies and plundering.
I do not heed their vulgar praise.
My songs are not for them to sing.

But ever do I grieve for exiles,
Like inmates, like the nearly dead.
Dark is the road you wander, rovers,
As wormwood fills your foreign bread.

But here at home where conflagrations
Consume the last of youth, we go
Unbeaten by the blast, our bodies
Did not deflect a single blow.

We know a later reckoning
Shall vindicate each hour's pain.
We are the tearless of the earth.
We are the proud. We are the plain.

Me reading the original:

The Original:

"Не с теми я, кто бросил землю..."

Не с теми я, кто бросил землю
На растерзание врагам.
Их грубой лести я не внемлю,
Им песен я своих не дам.

Но вечно жалок мне изгнанник,
Как заключенный, как больной.
Темна твоя дорога, странник,
Полынью пахнет хлеб чужой.

А здесь, в глухом чаду пожара
Остаток юности губя,
Мы ни единого удара
Не отклонили от себя.

И знаем, что в оценке поздней
Оправдан будет каждый час...
Но в мире нет людей бесслезней,
Надменнее и проще нас.


  1. do not count me among them
    they were deserters
    of the ground you razed
    i do not take kindly to flatterers
    do not give free the songs i saved

    but i do pity the man who goes
    without asylum—
    like one convicted (or else, committed)—
    flees upon that exile’s road a lonely pilgrim
    with a loaf of stinking, pestilential bread

    but here, here, thick within the fumes
    one last ember of a former glory glows
    though you also struck us in our youth
    we stayed and did not turn from a single blow

    we know that when the final judgement looms
    we will be vindicated every turn we took
    we will be relieved of any ruth
    we will be found with drier faces, proud and humble
    with less regret in every look

  2. I wanted to translate Akhmatova in Bengali and was searching for their English translations. I do not know Russian; but these translations carry the feel of pain and mesmerising candour of Akhmatova. A great help. Thanks, Foreman. I am from India.

  3. It's my favourite poem of hers. But you went to far from the original in my opinion, though it's great people love her and try to translate (it's hard i know). Good job anyway :)

  4. а мне показалось, что очень близко к оригиналу...мне очень понравилось))

  5. Мне кажется или он его доработал!? :) Я сейчас смотрю, и вижу не то, что было, т.к. когда оставлял комментарий, я искал - и не нашел - именно то, что вижу сейчас :) Но в любом случае приятно видеть подобные работы.

  6. Нет, не доработал, просто я по-другому взглянул (я привык к переводам на poetrylovers...).