Lot's Wife

by Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966), written 1922-1924
translated from the Russian by Alexander Volokh, 1996

"But his wife looked back from behind him,
and she became a pillar of salt."
-- Genesis 19:26

Behind the Lord's angel, enormous and shining,
The righteous man followed along the black hill.
But a voice told his wife, as if anxiously pining --
It's not yet too late, you can look again still

On Sodom, your home town, its towers and waters,
The yard where you spun, where you sang in the square,
The house where you bore your loved husband two daughters --
Your tall home whose windows stand empty and bare.

She glanced, and in agony deathly and arrant,
Her eyes couldn't look as she turned herself round;
Her body, transformed, was now salt and transparent;
Her legs, once so quick, now took root in the ground.

This woman -- will any among us regret her?
Is she not the least of our losses, Lot's wife?
Yet my heart, I am certain, will never forget her
Who just for a glance had surrendered her life.

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