The Best Translation of Akhmatova's Epigram

Anthony Madrid is one of those rare birds who listens in to the fine mesh of subtle rhetoric, syntax, metrics & style - the nano-landscape - of poems.  His brief article on translation & Akhmatova's famous sarcastic epigram, just published at the Paris Review website,  is a good example.

I think perhaps he slightly exaggerates the difference in tone between the first and second halves of the quatrain.  Akhmatova's powerful persona could mediate & blend both the archaizing poetickal "high style" of the first half, with the earthy directness of the second : she did this often.  Her poems are littered with the Ancient Greats, not merely as references or allusions, but by direct address : she could "naturalize" the most magisterial, heightened, exalted strains.  Still, I think he is correct & perceptive to note the satire on traditional patronizing male attitudes toward female poets.

Here's my own version of the epigram into English.  I reckon I have preserved something of the original meter & rhyme-scheme.  I have a little more Russian than Anthony, I think - though not much more; & anyway that's no guarantee of a better translation.  I just happen to think mine is the best.

Could Beatrice like Dante compose?
Or Laura glorify Love's fiery rose?
I taught the women how speech flows...
but how to shut them up - God knows!

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