PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
News and Notes
Digital Access to PN Review
Access the latest issues, plus back issues of PN Review with Exact Editions For PN Review subscribers: access the PN Review digital archive via the Exact Editions app Exactly or the Exact Editions website, you will first need to know your PN Review ID number. read more
Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Mark FordLetters And So It Goes
Letters from Young Mr Grace
(aka John Ashbery)

(PN Review 239)
Henry Kingon Toby Martinez de las Rivas
(PN Review 244)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Jamie OsbornIn conversation with Sasha Dugdale
(PN Review 240)
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
Gratis Ad 1
Monthly Carcanet Books
Next Issue Sasha Dugdale On Vision Yehuda Amichai's Blessing Chris Miller on Alvin Feinman Rebecca Watts Blue Period and other poems Patrick McGuinness's Mother as Spy

This review is taken from PN Review 92, Volume 19 Number 6, July - August 1993.

TRUTHS AND THRESHOLDS
Anatoly Nayman, Remembering Anna Akhmatova, translated by Wendy Rosslyn (Peter Halban) £18.00
The Complete Poems of Anna Akhmatova, translated by Judith Herschemeyer, edited by Roberta Reeder (Canongate) £17.95 pb
Viktoria Schweitzer, Tsvetaeva (Harvill/Harper Collins) £20.00

In the coda to her 1922 review of Pasternak's My Sister, Life - 'Before me is Life and I haven't the words' - Marina Tsvetaeva left a most poignant proof of how even a poet's powers of expression cannot hope to encompass what must in part remain a mystery. There is a distant echo of this quotient of inadequacy in the prefatory remarks which Joseph Brodsky has contributed to his friend Anatoly Nayman's Remembering Anna Akhmatova:

At every given moment a poet depends less on the limitations imposed upon him by his reality or his personal circumstances than on those of the word he is about to put on paper.


Perhaps too much ambivalence attaches here to whether the limits are intrinsic to the medium of language, or a reflection of a particular practitioner's capacity. But elsewhere in this introduction Brodsky typically insists upon a poet's access to truths and thresholds unavailable to those otherwise disposed, doubtless mindful of how Tsvetaeva was only moved to suspend operations after demonstrating an exceptional and quite dazzling brilliance of insight, in its way 'a downpour of light' commensurate with Pasternak's.

At book length Anatoly Nayman could hardly hope to emulate Tsvetaeva's achievement. If hers was a downpour, his is a kind of glittering ...


Searching, please wait... animated waiting image