Thursday, May 1, 2008

Lot's Wife

I've been meaning to blog this poem for a while.

I came across it in The Times newspaper in London, as they have a regular Monday poem slot, and it struck me (and continues to strike me) as a curious poem that has given me plenty to think about. I was also very struck by the commentary that was written by Frieda Hughes, which I would urge you to read here.

by Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966) (Akhmatova, translated by D.M. Thomas, Everyman's Library Pocket Poets)

And the just man trailed God's messenger,

His huge, light shape devoured the black hill.

But uneasiness shadowed his wife and spoke to her:

“It's not too late, you can look back still

At the red towers of Sodom, the place that bore you,
The square in which you sang, the spinning-shed,

At the empty windows of that upper storey
Where children blessed your happy marriage-bed.”

Her eyes that were still turning when a bolt

Of pain shot through them, were instantly blind;

Her body turned into transparent salt,

And her swift legs were rooted to the ground.

Who mourns one woman in a holocaust?
Surely her death has no significance?

Yet in my heart she never will be lost,

She who gave up her life to steal one glance.

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