“What makes this century worse than any before it?…”

What makes this century worse than any before it?
Maybe that, for once, it noticed the world’s sorrows,
black smoke rising from them. And it touched the heart
of this most painful ulcer. Still, it could not heal this.

The earthly sun’s still shining in the west;
our cities’ roofs, still blazing in its rays…
Here a white creature chalks the houses of the dead
with crosses, calls the ravens, and the ravens fly.

Translated from the Russian by Olga Livshin

*

Anna Akhmatova

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