Anna Akhmatova: New Year Ballad

The moon, weary in the pall of cloud, 
cast a murky glance at the hill. 
The table was laid for six, 
and only one place was empty. 

My husband, myself and my friends 
are seeing the new year in. 
Why are my fingers covered as with blood? 
Why does the wine burn like poison? 

The host with full glass raised 
was impressive — immobile. 
" I drink to the earth of our own forest glades, 
in which we all lie." 

A friend looked at my face, 
suddenly remembered God knows what, 
and exclaimed: " I drink to her songs 
in which we all live!" 

But a third, not understanding, 
as he went out into the dark, 
answering my thoughts 
said: " We ought to drink to him 
who is not with us yet."


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