Poem of the Week: ‘I Taught Myself to Live Simply’

It’s Monday morning, some of us had a nice long Thanksgiving weekend, so today is a tough day. We must reassemble our working selves and snap out of our weekend hibernating ways.

This past Friday, November 25th, was Black Friday. It’s an infamous day in America that marks the beginning of holiday shopping. People rush to the stores, nervously, sometimes violently, trying to snag the cheapest on-sale item that they may or may not need. For many, it’s the epitome of American capitalism- a day of crazed shopping following a day of indulgent eating. I, of course, take part in this tradition (the glutonous eating part), but chose to share a poem about the opposite of such behavior. Russian poet Anna Akhamatova’s ‘I Taught Myself to Live Simply’ is a pleasant reminder that sometimes we don’t need anything besides some peace and nature for a content life.  

‘I Taught Myself To Live Simply’ by Anna Akhmatova

I taught myself to live simply and wisely,
to look at the sky and pray to God,
and to wander long before evening
to tire my superfluous worries.
When the burdocks rustle in the ravine
and the yellow-red rowanberry cluster droops
I compose happy verses
about life’s decay, decay and beauty.
I come back. The fluffy cat
licks my palm, purrs so sweetly
and the fire flares bright
on the saw-mill turret by the lake.
Only the cry of a stork landing on the roof
occasionally breaks the silence.
If you knock on my door
I may not even hear.

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