by Anna Akhmatova

We're all scoundrels and harlots here.
What a gloomy, despondent crowd!
On the walls birds and flowers are smeared
In their longing to reach the clouds.

The black pipe you've lit up exerts
A strange little smoky streamer
I've put on a narrow skirt
To make me appear even slimmer

The windows are nailed shut
What's out there – a frost, a storm?
Into the eyes of a cautious cat
Your eyes seem to transform.

Oh, my heart in its forlorn shroud!
Am I waiting for death's somber bell?
And that woman who's dancing now
Is certainly going to hell.