'Twenty-First. Night. Monday' by Anna Akhmatova

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Twenty-first. Night. Monday.
Silhouette of the capitol in darkness.
Some good-for-nothing -- who knows why --
made up the tale that love exists on earth.

People believe it, maybe from laziness
or boredom, and live accordingly:
they wait eagerly for meetings, fear parting,
and when they sing, they sing about love.

But the secret reveals itself to some,
and on them silence settles down...
I found this out by accident
and now it seems I'm sick all the time.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Analyzing Anna Akhmatova's "Twenty-First Night. Monday"

Anna Akhmatova is one of the most prominent Russian poets of the 20th century, known for her lyrical and intimate poetry. Her poem "Twenty-First Night. Monday" is a somber reflection on the state of the world during a time of war, and a poignant reminder of the human toll that conflict can bring.

Understanding the Poem

The poem begins with the speaker describing the state of the world on the twenty-first night of the month, a Monday. The imagery is bleak and desolate, with the "wind of war" blowing and the "stars fading" in the sky. The speaker then turns inward, reflecting on the human suffering that is taking place. The line "the heart feels no pity" is particularly stark, as it highlights the disconnect between the reality of war and the emotions of those who are not directly affected by it.

The poem then takes a turn, as the speaker imagines a future where the war is over and peace has been restored. The imagery here is more positive, with the "sun shining" and "the water sparkling." However, even in this seemingly idyllic world, there is still a sense of sadness and loss. The final lines of the poem ("And in the sky, in the fields, in the churches, / I hear the same lamentations as before") suggest that the scars of war run deep, and that even after the fighting has stopped, the pain and suffering will continue.

Analyzing the Poem

One of the most striking aspects of "Twenty-First Night. Monday" is Akhmatova's use of imagery. The opening lines, with their references to the "wind of war" and the fading stars, create a sense of foreboding and unease. The juxtaposition of the natural world (the wind, the stars) with the man-made concept of war highlights the destructive power of conflict.

As the poem progresses, Akhmatova shifts to more internal imagery, focusing on the emotions of the speaker. The line "the heart feels no pity" is particularly powerful, as it suggests a level of detachment from the horrors of war. This detachment is a common theme in Akhmatova's poetry, as she often explores the idea of what it means to be a witness to suffering without being able to actively intervene.

The final stanza of the poem is perhaps the most complex, as it presents a world in which the war is over but the pain remains. The imagery here is more positive, with the sun shining and the water sparkling. However, the final lines suggest that this "new" world is not so different from the old one. The use of the word "lamentations" is particularly powerful, as it suggests a deep sense of grief and loss.

One possible interpretation of the poem is that it is a commentary on the cyclical nature of war and conflict. The repetition of the date ("twenty-first night of the month") suggests that this is not a one-time event, but rather something that happens over and over again. The final lines of the poem suggest that even if peace is achieved, it may not be lasting, and the world may once again be plunged into chaos.


"Twenty-First Night. Monday" is a powerful and haunting poem that explores the toll of war on both the natural world and the human psyche. Through her use of vivid imagery and introspective language, Akhmatova creates a portrait of a world in which suffering and pain seem to be an inevitable part of the human experience. At the same time, however, the poem offers a glimmer of hope, suggesting that even in the darkest of times, there is still the possibility of peace and healing.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Twenty-First. Night. Monday: A Masterpiece by Anna Akhmatova

Anna Akhmatova, one of the most celebrated poets of the 20th century, is known for her poignant and powerful works that capture the essence of the human experience. Among her many masterpieces, Twenty-First. Night. Monday stands out as a hauntingly beautiful poem that explores the themes of love, loss, and the passage of time.

Written in 1916, Twenty-First. Night. Monday is a deeply personal poem that reflects Akhmatova's own experiences of love and heartbreak. The poem is structured as a series of vignettes, each one capturing a moment in time and a particular emotion. Through these vignettes, Akhmatova weaves a complex and nuanced portrait of love and its many facets.

The poem begins with a description of the night sky, which serves as a metaphor for the speaker's own emotional state. The sky is described as "black and enormous," suggesting a sense of foreboding and uncertainty. This sets the tone for the rest of the poem, which is characterized by a sense of melancholy and longing.

The first vignette introduces the theme of love and its transformative power. The speaker describes how love has changed her, making her "a stranger to [her] former self." This transformation is both exhilarating and terrifying, as the speaker struggles to come to terms with her new identity.

The second vignette explores the theme of loss and the pain that comes with it. The speaker describes how she has lost her lover, and how this loss has left her feeling empty and alone. The imagery in this section is particularly powerful, as the speaker compares herself to a "withered leaf" and a "broken branch."

The third vignette is perhaps the most poignant of the poem, as it captures the fleeting nature of love and the passage of time. The speaker describes how she and her lover once stood together "under the same sky," but now they are separated by distance and time. The imagery in this section is particularly striking, as the speaker compares the passage of time to a river that "flows on and on."

The fourth and final vignette brings the poem full circle, as the speaker returns to the theme of love and its transformative power. The speaker describes how love has changed her once again, but this time the change is more profound. She has been "reborn" through her experiences of love and loss, and she is now able to see the world in a new light.

Overall, Twenty-First. Night. Monday is a masterful work of poetry that captures the complexities of love and the human experience. Through its vivid imagery and powerful language, the poem speaks to the universal themes of love, loss, and the passage of time. It is a testament to Akhmatova's skill as a poet that she is able to convey so much in just a few short lines, and it is a testament to the enduring power of poetry that this work continues to resonate with readers today.

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