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POETRY: Anna Akhmatova


Alexander at Thebes

Surely the young King must have been blind to pity
As he spoke the order: ‘Destroy Thebes utterly’.
The old general gazed and knew this place to be
No better than he remembered it, a haughty city.
Put it all to the fire!  There were wonders – gate
And tower and temple everywhere the King searched,
But suddenly his face brightened with a thought:
‘Be sure that the house of the Poet is not touched’.

Anna Akhmatova, Leningrad, October 1961 

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