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Anna Akhmatova's "Requiem" Essay

1044 words - 5 pages

Anna Akhmatova is known as one of the greatest poet in Russia who has written a various amount of literature during her lifetime. Her interest in poetry began as she was a young child, yet her father did not agree with her decision of becoming a poet (Poets). Eventually, Akhmatova attended school, married Nikolai Gumilev, and gave birth to her first son.
She always believed that she was not worthy of motherhood. As a result, her son lived with his grandmother and she would visit him occasionally (Poets). After her book of poetry, Evening, was published, she became very active in the literary scene of St. Petersburg, Russia and was known as the greatest woman poet in the West (Lowe). Soon ...view middle of the document...

As she identifies herself as a witness and survivor early on in the poem, it creates a first person point of view. Considering she stayed in Russia during the Yezhov terror, and didn’t flee the country, she was able to understand what was going on. Next, Akhmatova goes on to describe a woman who identified her in the crowd of people waiting outside the prison who were all worried and confused. She notes that the woman asked, ‘“Can you describe this?” and Akhmatova replies, “‘I can’” (Requiem). Her response to the woman gave her the responsibility to describe why this was happening to the family and loved ones of the common people. Akhmatova believed that she survived the struggles of the terror, and so she was able to depict what occurred in her eyes to all those who weren’t able to comprehend what was happening.
As all the people of Russia gathered around the jail, she describes it as “if for early mass, [they] rose” (Requiem). She viewed the gatherings in hope to see loved ones as important as attending early mass. She also mentions that the terror was a time “when only the dead could smile” (Requiem). She suggests that the dead were happier than those who were alive, under the rule of the dictatorial Stalin. During the terror, almost all the people in Russia were targeted, but especially those who opposed Stalin. It has been identified that “over 20 million people were sent to labor camps, where nearly half of them died” (Of Russian). Also, when people were imprisoned, the police would come to their homes and take them to the jail in Black Marias.
Akhmatova’s son was taken from her home and she describes the experience emphasizing that “At dawn they came and took [him] away. [He was] my dead: [she] walked behind.” She continues on to document that “the word [of his sentence] dropped like a stone on [her] still living breast.” (Requiem). She confesses that she was prepared for her son to be prisoned, yet she was not ready to live life alone, without...

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