You Will Hear Thunder




You will hear thunder and remember me,
And think: she wanted storms. The rim
Of the sky will be the colour of hard crimson,
And your heart, as it was then, will be on fire.




[From: You Will Hear Thunder, Anna Ahkmatova]


2 thoughts on “You Will Hear Thunder”

  1. So excellently and precisely phrased, this reminded me of a very old, very special and strong relationship that ended. I’ve often thought this person chose an easier path in life, hiding from the fire, yet loving it.

    This is a staggering and powerful 4 lines! Thank you!

  2. This piece grabbed me. It puzzled me. I thought to myself, “Thunder doesn’t naturally suggest crimson sky. Therefore, a fire is what’s lighting the sky in this piece. And the lightening of the storm must have been the thing which started the fire. But the rain has ceased, evidenced by the fact that the fire is still burning. What is this? This first sounded like a farewell to a romance, but after looking closer at the metaphorical parts of the scenery, those parts seem to have much deeper, more complex meaning that that.”

    So much large symbolism in such a small piece. I tried, but couldn’t solve it. So, I decided that I need some context: Who is/was this woman? What is/was her experience, her story, her trauma, her passion?

    I did a bit of research, and learned a bit about her, but I still have not completely solved the poem to my satisfaction. I trust that I will, after I first fininsh offering this preliminary reflection to you.

    She suffered terribly. Soviet repression. Betrayal by careless cruel asshole husbands. Government banning of her works. Friends departing to escape the Soviet cruelty, while she deliberately stayed for the purpose of carrying on her determination to “bear witness” to the storm of her country’s tragedy. Being humiliated to the extent that she was forced to cease writing her truth, and instead was forced to write/publish praises to the regime which imprisoned her fellow artists, executed one of her husbands, and even sent her only son to the gulag.

    The miseries of her existence are extremely painful to contemplate. The bleakness is unimaginable, except perhaps in it’s unavoidable imagery of all-enveloping dark grays, coal black streets and matching rings under eyes, colorlessness everywhere, in atmosphere, architecture, emotions, hearts, and hopes.

    Okay, now I’ve got some context. Yes, I can already feel how that context is going to change the meaning of the piece, which at first appeared to be only a confusing, metaphorical record of a person-to-person romance and/or friendship in the aftermath of loss.

    Now I see it is much more than that.

    She wrote it to future generations. She wrote of the uprisings of the spirit of liberation and conscience, which she lived and died for.

    A crowd of more than 5,000 mostly youths attended her burial ceremony, with her thunder and a sky of hard crimson in their memory and in the distances which their minds’ eyes viewed on their destiny’s horizon ahead.

    Thank you for sharing the piece, Celia, and for making this enriching journey become part of my life.

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