Simple Life

Somewhere there is a simple life and a world, 

Transparent, warm and joyful. . .

There at evening a neighbor talks with a girl

Across the fence, and only the bees can hear 

This most tender murmuring of all.

But we live ceremoniously and with difficulty 

And we observe the rites of our bitter meetings, 

When suddenly the reckless wind

Breaks off a sentence just begun --

But not for anything would we exchange this splendid 

Granite city of fame and calamity, 

The wide rivers of glistening ice, 

The sunless, gloomy gardens,

And, barely audible, the Muse's voice.

~Anna Akhmatova
June 23, 1915, St. Petersburg

Translated by Judith Hemschemeyer