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Commentary on Anna Akhmatova's poem "Requiem".

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Anna Akhmatova Background Considered Russia's finest female poet, Akhmatova is known for her accessible style and concrete images. Her poems deal with personal issues of love and suffering, but are often interpreted as ?metaphors for the plight of the Russian people as a whole?. Her work, considered ?subversive during the Stalinist era?, was banned for many years. After Stalin's death in 1953, her reputation was gradually restored and she was able to resume publishing original verse. Akhmatova was born Anna Andreevna Gorenko on June 11, 1889, near Odessa, on the coast of the Black Sea. She began to write poetry when she was eleven, and her first poem was published in 1907. Her work is often considered part of the Acmeist movement, and is generally divided into two periods: the first, associated with the love ...read more.


With ?Requiem?, Akhmatova ?weaves a veil of words that articulate the pain of those years, acknowledges the crimes which were the cause, and perpetuates the memory of it in defense against the forgetfulness of time?. A ?requiem? is a mass for the dead or a musical composition in honor of the dead. The funeral elegy, the literary equivalent of a requiem, is traditionally a poem written on the occasion of a death, serving the ?dual function of commemorating the deceased and of contemplating the nature of death? in general. At a first glance, Akhmatova's ?Requiem? would seem to have little in common with either a requiem or an elegy, as the son had not died, and in fact very little is said about the son. ...read more.


?Requiem is an elegy mourning the loss of life for the wives and mothers left behind: the women are depicted as lacking basic human qualities, such as warmth, breath and identity. In ?Epilogue I? their cheeks are stiffened and etched as if petrified and their hair is turned gray. In ?Instead of a Preface?, the woman is described as faceless with blue lips, an image that is also echoed in ?I?, where the arrested son is described as having cold lips. These descriptions of the women emphasize the loss of identity and a reduction to an almost ?animal-like state?. To conclude, I believe that Anna Akhmatova is effective in bearing witness to the oppressive silence during Stalin?s reign of terror and her work offers great insight into that dark world. ...read more.

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