Anna Akhmatova

anna-akhmatova (Anna Akhmatova 1889 – 1966), was a Russian and Soviet modernist poet, one of the most acclaimed Russian writers of the modern era. Her distinctive style was praised for its originality, and economical use of words. Her work was condemned by Stalinist censors and she was witness to many atrocities of the Soviet era.


Anna Akhmatova was the pen name of Anna Gorenko. She was interested in poetry from an early age but her father did not approve and this is why she was asked to use a pen name. She married Nikolai Gumilev a poet and critic in 1910. In 1912 Gumilev travelled to Abyssinia leaving Anna behind. During this period she wrote he first popular book ‘Evening’. With this and her 2nd book ‘Rosary’ (1914) Anna become a well respected author, especially within the literary scene of St Petersburg.

Anna’s poetry became associated with the movement of Acmeism. This praised the virtues of lucid, carefully-crafted verse. It was quite different to the previous symbolist style which was much more vague in its construction.

She divorced her husband N. Gumilev in 1918 and married twice more. Gumilev was executed by the Bolsheviks in 1921 and despite being divorced, through this association Akhamatova suffered from some degree of political censure for most of her life. One of her most famous works is ‘Requiem’ This was written as a tribute to the many victims of Stalin. It was not published fully in the Soviet Union until 1987.

Despite the heavy censure Anna faced from the authorities throughout her life she remained deeply popular with Russian people. Through her poetry Anna was a link to the pre Communist past and shewas also a personal witness to the political and cultural upheavals of Russian history.

She was awarded an honorary doctorate from Oxford University in 1965 and was awarded the Etna-Taormina prize in 1964.

Anna Akhamatova died in Lenningrad in 1966

“Anna Andreevna Akhmatova used poetry to give voice to the struggles and deepest yearnings of the Russian people, for whom she remains the greatest of literary heroines. She has lately come to symbolize for the world even beyond Russia the power of art to survive and transcend the terrors of our century.”

– Judith Hemschemeyer, A Stranger to Heaven and Earth

Anna Akhmatova Poems