Anna Akhmatova was born Anna Gorenko near Odessa, Ukraine, in 1889. She took, as her pen name, the name of her Tatar great-grandmother, since her father didn't want her to disgrace the family name by becoming a "decadent poetess". He would never believe that these days she is a shining star rather than a disgrace, but so she is. Here is a sampling of her poetic style, this one showing an almost Emily Dickinson-like flair:
Wild honey has the scent of freedom,
dust--of a ray of sun,
a girl's mouth--of a violet,
and gold--has no perfume.
and like an apple--love,
but we have found out forever
that blood smells only of blood.
1933 --Translated by Jane Kenyon
Twenty Poems of Anna Akhmatova
Originally published (in the Russian) in the book Reed, 1924