Limping, unwillingly half-faltering
 across the empty ground, with light,
 uneven steps, she barely overtakes
 her friends whose lighter, youthful
 steps she steps beyond. A crippled
 freedom leads her, enlivening her
 step, and, as she steps, she clarifies
 the readiness I feel: spring weather
 is the grandmother of coffins. What
 Spring begins today begins forever… 


 There are women, sisters of the damp, raw
 earth, whose every step is resonant with
 weeping. To lead the dead, to be the first
 to greet the resurrection is their calling.
 To hold or grasp their tenderness is criminal.
 To part from them is unimaginable…
 An angel offers us today – tomorrow, cratered
 earth, its worms – and after – just a feeling…
 For us, what was has grown beyond our reach –
 undying flowers. Heaven is chaste, the sky
 untouched, what will be only promised. 

Translated by Tony Brinkley

Translator’s note:

The poem is untitled in the original. It is the last of the poems from the Voronezh Notebooks, and is dated 4 May 1937. The woman in the first part is Natasha Stempel. She is also one of the women in the second part along with Nadezhda Mandelshtam and Anna Akhmatova. The three of them were largely responsible for rescuing the Notebooks after Mandelshtam’s death and preserving them for publication. I have revised the translation slightly since I sent it to Hungarian Review by way of a New Years greeting.

Most recent

Newsletter signup

Like it ? Share it !

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pocket
Share on email



The Story of István VasdényeyPart II ‘The train departed a second time.’1The title of István Lengyel’s conversation with the poet Erzsi Szenes, an inmate of the Kistarcsacamp. See: István Lengyel,

Nation Building in Central Europe

On the Relationship between Religious and National Identity The purpose of this study is to outline the cooperation between Slovak, Czech, and Polish national movements and the Christian denominations that

Separation of Powers
and Sovereignty

The Question of External Executive Power The title István Bibó gave to his academic inaugural address on 16 January 1947 was ‘Separation of Powers, Then and Now’. 1István Bibó, Az

Religious Conflict in Poland

An Interim Report Even though Christianity is perhaps the most persecuted religion in the world, and the severity of the living conditions of oppressed Christians is getting worse by the