Sam N. Driver (essay date 1972)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: Driver, Sam N. “Later Works.” In Anna Akhmatova, pp. 125-55. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1972.

[In the following excerpt, Driver offers a thematic overview of Akhmatova's Requiem.]

Unlike the Poem Without a Hero, Requiem is not a private poem. It is not so much a new experiment in Akhmatova's poetry as a culmination of a style perfected over the decades preceding; Akhmatova organizes her characteristic devices and techniques into an amazingly powerful statement which requires no elaboration or “explanation.”

Neither is the Requiem a private poem in the sense that the subject, unlike that of the “Petersburg...

(The entire section is 2714 words.)

Sonia I. Ketchian (essay date 1986)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: Ketchian, Sonia I. “An Inspiration for Anna Akhmatova's Requiem: Hovannes Tumanian.” In Studies in Russian Literature In Honor of Vsevolod Setchkarev, edited by Julian W. Connolly and Sonia I. Ketchian, pp. 175-188. Columbus, Ohio: Slavica Publishers, 1986.

[In the following essay, Ketchian proposes that one source of inspiration for Akhmatova's Requiem was a Tumanian.]

Numerous literary, cultural, and historical sources have enriched Akhmatova's masterpiece Requiem (1935-1961). Some have been studied, but many more await their turn.1 The present objective is to illuminate a source of inspiration for Requiem, the poem...

(The entire section is 4802 words.)

Susan Amert (essay date fall 1990)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: Amert, Susan. “Akhmatova's ‘Song of the Motherland’: Rereading the Opening Texts of Rekviem.Slavic Review 49, no. 3 (fall 1990): 374-89.

[In the following essay, Amert offers a close reading of the first two texts of Akhmatova's Requiem.]

Pokoinyi Alig'eri sozdal by desiatyi krug ada.

Anna Akhmatova

Hostias et preces tibi,
Domine, laudis offerimus:
tu suscipe pro animabus illis,
quarum hodie memoriam facimus:
fac eas, Domine, de morte
transire ad vitam.

the requiem mass

Anna Akhmatova's Rekviem is a deceptively simple piece. Compared to the opacity and...

(The entire section is 9237 words.)

Sam Driver (essay date 1990)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: Driver, Sam. “Anna Akhmatova.” In European Writers: The Twentieth Century, vol. 10, edited by George Stade, pp. 1521-42. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1990.

[In the following excerpt, Driver provides a brief overview of Akhmatova's Requiem.]

Now that Akhmatova has been for so long fixed among the premier poets of Russia, it is difficult to recall that in the middle to late 1950's she was very nearly forgotten in the West and that in the Soviet Union she was considered to be an obscure figure, certainly not one who was very “relevant.” Older readers typically remembered “the left-hand glove drawn onto the right” and often a good deal more, but...

(The entire section is 1554 words.)

Michael Basker (essay date 1990)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: Basker, Michael. “Dislocation and Relocation in Akhmatova's Rekviem.” In The Speech of Unknown Eyes: Akhmatova's Readers on Her Poetry, edited by Wendy Rosslyn, pp. 5-25. Cotgrave, Nottingham, England: Astra Press, 1990.

[In the following essay, Basker examines aspects of Akhmatova's Requiem that project qualities of disorientation and dislocation.]

The American critic Sam Driver has described Rekviem as ‘an amazingly powerful statement which requires no elaboration or “explanation”’.1 A ‘public’ work, woven, we are told, from the ‘poor words’ of the ordinary victims of the events...

(The entire section is 6987 words.)

Roberta Reeder (essay date 1994)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: Reeder, Roberta. “The Great Terror: 1930-1939.” In Anna Akhmatova: Poet and Prophet, pp. 211-22. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1994.

[In the following excerpt, Reeder provides a biographical and thematic overview of Anna Akhmatova's career during the composition of her Requiem.]

Indeed, Akhmatova had begun to write brilliant poems again. Her “mute” period was over, as the impressions of the many years of quiet suffering finally rose to the surface. Philosophical themes, such as humanity's place in the universe and the role of suffering in the life of those who believe in a benevolent God, now began to play a more dominant role in her work. “In 1936 I...

(The entire section is 5260 words.)

David N. Wells (essay date 1996)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: Wells, David N. “Stalinism and War: Works of the 1930s and 1940s.” In Anna Akhmatova: Her Poetry, pp. 64-95. Oxford, England: Berg, 1996.

[In the following excerpt, Wells discusses structure, theme, and inspirational sources of Akhmatova's Requiem.]

Akhmatova's most sustained piece of overtly oppositional writing in the 1930s is the cycle Requiem (I, 359-70).1 Although the epigraph and prose introduction to the cycle were both added later, the cycle as such was put together in 1940.2 The poems which make it up appear to have been inspired by several different episodes in Akhmatova's biography. Although the most immediate impetus...

(The entire section is 4260 words.)

Boris Katz (essay date April 1998)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: Katz, Boris. “To What Extent is Requiem a Requiem? Unheard Female Voices in Anna Akhmatova's Requiem.The Russian Review 57, no. 2 (April 1998): 253-63.

[In the following essay, Katz traces musical, literary, and religious subtexts in Akhmatova's Requiem.]

Some cry up Haydn, some Mozart,
Just as the whim bites. For my part,
I do not care a farthing candle
For either of them, nor for Handel.
Cannot a man live free and easy,
Without admiring Pergolesi?

—Charles Lamb, “Free Thoughts on Several Eminent Composers” (1830).

It is obvious that not every poet would share Charles Lamb's attitude toward music in...

(The entire section is 5239 words.)

Sharon M. Bailey (essay date summer 1999)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: Bailey, Sharon M. “An Elegy for Russia: Anna Akhmatova's Requiem.Slavic and East European Journal 43, no. 2 (summer 1999): 324-46.

[In the following essay, Bailey defines Akhmatova's Requiem as an elegy of mourning, particularly giving voice to the grief of the women whose loved ones were imprisoned or executed during the years of Stalinist rule in the Soviet Union.]


In the final lines of Akhmatova's Requiem is the image of a bronze monument to the poet, standing motionless in front of the Leningrad Prison and crying with each spring thaw. Although this statue has not yet been erected,...

(The entire section is 11172 words.)