It’s one thing to start every day with a poem. But another altogether to start your day with a poet. One of our favorite days of the year is fast approaching, when we encourage people around the world to take their favorite poet to work for the day.
Take Your Poet to Work Day is coming July 15, 2015
To help you play and celebrate with us, we’re releasing poets each week in a compact, convenient format you can tuck in your pocket, tool belt, or lunchbox. We started our celebration two years ago with Sara Teasdale, Pablo Neruda, T. S. Eliot, Rumi, Edgar Allan Poe, and the reclusive Emily Dickinson (for folks who work at home). We even released a full collection, The Haiku Masters: Matsuo Basho, Yosa Buson, and Kobayashi Issa. And last year, we added Langston Hughes, Adrienne Rich, John Keats, William Butler Yeats, Christina Rossetti and the beloved 20th-century American poet, Sylvia Plath.
Because you can never have too many poets in your lunch box (or your desk drawer), we have a new collection of poets to release this year, including the Bard of Avon William Shakespeare, beloved poet Maya Angelou, and iconic American poet Robert Frost. Today, we welcome Anna Akhmatova to the Take Your Poet to Work Day poet collection.
Take Your Poet to Work: Anna Akhmatova
Get your own downloadable version of Take Your Poet to Work Day Printable Anna Akhmatova that you can print, color and cut out for the big day.
Russian modernist poet Anna Akhmatova was born in 1889 in what is now Ukraine to a family with aristocratic roots. She began writing poetry at the age of 11 and later attended law school. Born Anna Gorenko, she took her grandmother’s name, Akhmatova, as a pen name in order to distance her family from her work.
Her first collection, Vecher (Evening), was published in 1912 and was immediately successful. While Akhmatova’s work was quite popular, she faced censorship by Stalinist authorities. She divorced her first husband, Nikolay Gumilev, in 1918. He was later executed for his role in an anti-Bolshevik plot. Akhmatova would marry again; her third husband dying in a labor camp. Her son, Lev, was also imprisoned for a time.
For her part, Akhmatova opted to stay in Russia and witness the atrocities through her poetry, which was at one time banned. She was later permitted to publish her poetry, though it was pulled again shortly thereafter. Akhmatova is considered one of the most celebrated poets of the Silver Age. She died in 1966.
All that I am hangs by a thread tonight
as I wait for her whom no one can command.
Whatever I cherish most—youth, freedom, glory—
fades before her who bears the fruit in her hand.
And look! she comes . . . she tosses back her veil,
staring me down, serene and pitiless.
“Are you the one, ” I ask, “whom Dante heard dictate
the lines of his Inferno?” She answers: “Yes.”
Learn more about Take Your Poet to Work Day and our featured poets
Discover more Poets and Poems
Explore more Anna Akhmatova
Post and illustrations by LW Lindquist.
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