‘How I loved, and love, to look’

by Anna Akhmatova

How I loved, and love, to look
At your chained shores,
At the balconies on which centuries
Never set foot.
And you are truly the capital,
For we who are mad and luminous;
But when those pure and special hours
Linger above the Neva,
And the wind in May sweeps round
The columns that edge the water,
You are like a sinner seeing, before death,
A sweetest dream of paradise.