'In Memory of M. B.' by Anna Akhmatova

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Poems of Akhmatova1973Here is my gift, not roses on your grave,
not sticks of burning incense.
You lived aloof, maintaining to the end
your magnificent disdain.
You drank wine, and told the wittiest jokes,
and suffocated inside stifling walls.
Alone you let the terrible stranger in,
and stayed with her alone.Now you're gone, and nobody says a word
about your troubled and exalted life.
Only my voice, like a flute, will mourn
at your dumb funeral feast.
Oh, who would have dared believe that half-crazed I,
I, sick with grief for the buried past,
I, smoldering on a slow fire,
having lost everything and forgotten all,
would be fated to commemorate a man
so full of strength and will and bright inventions,
who only yesterday it seems, chatted with me,
hiding the tremor of his mortal pain.

Editor 1 Interpretation

In Memory of M.B. by Anna Akhmatova: A Tribute to Love and Grief

Have you ever experienced the profound loss of a loved one? Have you ever felt the agony of having to say goodbye to someone so dear and precious to your heart? If you have, then you would understand the depth of emotions that Anna Akhmatova poured into her poem, "In Memory of M.B." This classic piece of poetry has transcended time and touched the hearts of many readers around the world. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we will delve into the meaning and significance of this poem and explore the techniques that Akhmatova used to convey her message.

Background Information

Anna Akhmatova was a prominent Russian poet who lived during the tumultuous period of the early 20th century. She witnessed firsthand the horrors of war, revolution, and political oppression. Her poetry reflected the pain and suffering of the Russian people during that time. "In Memory of M.B." was written in 1958, several years after the death of her friend and fellow poet, Mikhail Borisovich Zenkevich. The poem was included in her collection, "Poem Without a Hero."

Structure and Form

"In Memory of M.B." is a poem written in free verse, without any apparent rhyme or meter. It consists of five stanzas, each with a varying number of lines. The first three stanzas are written in the past tense, while the last two stanzas are in the present tense. The poem is divided into two parts, the first part being a nostalgic remembrance of the past, and the second part being a lamentation of the present.

Themes and Meaning

The themes of love, loss, and grief are central to the poem. Akhmatova reflects on the memories of her friend, Zenkevich, and the love and affection they shared. She reminisces about the good times they had together and the beauty of the world they once knew. However, this nostalgia is quickly replaced by a sense of sorrow and loss. The present is bleak and dreary, and the absence of Zenkevich is deeply felt.

The poem can be interpreted as a meditation on the transience of life and the inevitability of death. The past is gone, and the present is fleeting. Time marches on, and all that remains are memories. The beauty of life is fragile and fleeting, and death is a cruel reality that we must all face. Akhmatova's poem is a poignant reminder of this truth.

Imagery and Symbolism

Akhmatova's use of imagery and symbolism is masterful in this poem. The images she creates are both beautiful and haunting. She uses nature imagery to describe the world she once knew, a world that is now gone. In the first stanza, she writes:

The blue-grey evening was not gloomy,

But it wasn't shining either.

And the air was as transparent

As the crystal of a spring.

Here, Akhmatova uses the image of a spring to symbolize the purity and clarity of the past. The air is transparent, and the evening is not gloomy. The world is full of life and vitality.

However, as the poem progresses, the imagery becomes darker and more ominous. In the second stanza, Akhmatova writes:

The wind was playing with the curtain,

And quietly tapping on the window.

I gazed into the darkened distance,

And suddenly felt a chill.

Here, the wind and the darkness symbolize the present. The world is no longer bright and full of life. Instead, it is cold and empty.

Language and Tone

Akhmatova's language is simple and direct, yet powerful in its effect. She uses short, concise sentences to convey her message. The tone of the poem is mournful and nostalgic. She speaks of the past with fondness, but the present is marked by a deep sense of loss and sorrow.


"In Memory of M.B." is a beautiful and haunting poem that speaks to the human experience of love, loss, and grief. Akhmatova's use of imagery and symbolism creates a powerful and evocative atmosphere that draws the reader into the world of the poem. The language is simple yet profound, and the tone is both mournful and nostalgic. This poem is a testament to the enduring power of love and the enduring pain of loss.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry In Memory of M. B. by Anna Akhmatova is a classic piece of literature that has stood the test of time. This poem is a tribute to the poet's friend, Mikhail Bulgakov, who was a renowned Russian writer. The poem is a reflection on the life and death of Bulgakov, and it is a poignant reminder of the fragility of life.

The poem is divided into three sections, each of which represents a different stage in the poet's relationship with Bulgakov. The first section is a reflection on the poet's first meeting with Bulgakov. The second section is a reflection on the poet's relationship with Bulgakov, and the third section is a reflection on Bulgakov's death.

In the first section, the poet describes her first meeting with Bulgakov. She describes him as a man who was full of life and energy. She talks about how he was always laughing and joking, and how he had a great sense of humor. The poet also talks about how Bulgakov was a great writer, and how he had a unique style that was all his own.

The second section of the poem is a reflection on the poet's relationship with Bulgakov. The poet talks about how they became close friends, and how they would often spend hours talking about literature and life. She talks about how Bulgakov was a great influence on her writing, and how he helped her to develop her own unique style.

The third section of the poem is a reflection on Bulgakov's death. The poet talks about how she was devastated by his death, and how she felt as though a part of her had died with him. She talks about how she struggled to come to terms with his death, and how she found solace in writing poetry.

One of the most striking aspects of this poem is the way in which the poet uses language to convey her emotions. The poem is full of vivid imagery and powerful metaphors that help to bring the poet's feelings to life. For example, in the first section of the poem, the poet describes Bulgakov as a "flame" that "burned brightly." This metaphor helps to convey the energy and vitality that Bulgakov brought to the poet's life.

Another powerful metaphor in the poem is the image of the poet as a "widow." This metaphor is used in the third section of the poem, and it helps to convey the sense of loss and grief that the poet feels after Bulgakov's death. The image of the widow is a powerful one, as it suggests that the poet has lost not just a friend, but a part of herself.

Overall, Poetry In Memory of M. B. is a powerful and moving tribute to a great writer and a dear friend. The poem is a reminder of the fragility of life, and of the importance of cherishing the people we love while they are still with us. The poet's use of language is masterful, and her ability to convey complex emotions through vivid imagery and powerful metaphors is truly impressive. This poem is a classic piece of literature that will continue to inspire and move readers for generations to come.

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