'Why Is Our Century' by Anna Akhmatova Analysis

Topics: Poetry, Russia, Sadness Pages: 2 (528 words) Published: May 11, 2012
‘Why is Our Century’ by Anna Akhmatova is a poem written in the early 20th century while the Soviet Union was active. The poem portrays the grief and melancholy of Anna Akhmatova by using many deep poetic techniques such as personification and symbolism. Akhmatova embeds a dark and gruesome theme into the poem, portraying what she, and many other Russians felt in the early 20th century. She makes a cry for awareness in the poem by the use of a rhetorical question which affects the entire poem intensely.

To start off, the first of the two stanzas in the poem starts with the rhetorical question mentioned above which asks, “Why is our century worse than any others”, blatantly portraying that she is deeply unhappy about the state of Russia. This particular question was asked by many Russians, and it was a topic that always came up. There was widespread sorrow throughout the country. The reader is enthralled in the emotions of the poet when reading the question, and many readers are left feeling that somewhere out there, there’s always something worse.

The line “it has plunged its fingers in the blackest of ulcer” is an excellent example of personification in this particular poem. ‘it’ refers to the bad state of the century. By plunging its fingers into the blackest of ulcer, the poem is saying that the cruel century is digging really deep into the parts where it harms most, and it hurts everyone tragically. Including ‘blackest’ in the line adds to the gloominess and sadness, because black is a very unhappy and tragic colour.

The line about the ulcer isn’t the only representation of personification in this low-spirited poem. In the second stanza, third line, Anna is saying that death, a non-living thing, is alive and is chalking doors with crosses. Crosses were put on doors when the plague struck and when people were infected. The state of Russia at the time has a striking similarity to the plague, as both cause death and sorrow, and nobody was pleased....
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