Friday, April 16, 2010

Lot's Wife, Akhmatova

Yesterday's poem inspired Jonas to post Katherine Kaufman's poem, "Lot's Wife" in the comments -- I urge anyone reading this to go back one post, click comments, and read it because we're on a roll. Kaufman was inspired by Akhmatova's poem which is below. Tomorrow I will post one of the same name by Wislawa Szymborska. Each has a different point of view. I think Lot's wife is a kind of litmus for women poems, I will research whether there are more, I think there might be.

"Lot's Wife" by Anna Akhmatova [translated by StanleyKunitz and Max Hayward]

And the just man trailed God's shining agent,
over a black mountain, in his giant track,
while a restl late,you can still look back

at the red towers of your native Sodom,
the square where once you sang, the spinning-shed,
at the empty windows set in the tall house
where sons and daughter blessed your marriage-bed.

A single glance: a sudden dart of pain
stitching her eyes before she made a sound ...
Her body flaked into transparent salt,
and her swift legs rooted to the ground.

Who will grieve for this woman? Does she not seem
too insignificant for our concerns?
Yet in my heart I never will deny her,
who suffered death because she chose to turn.


Kass said...

Incredible poem. It's so like us to either literally or metaphorically turn back, but doesn't it sometimes make us more savory?

Jonas said...

I had never read Akhmatova's original poem. I hadn't realized that Kaufman simply re-phrased it. While I like both, Kaufman's retake pleases me more.

I look forward to discovering Szymborska's musings.