I wrote recently about Bulgakov’s manic novel, The Master and Margarita. Here is an obituary, a memory, a tribute, by Anna Akhmatova who knew and, I guess, loved him. It was written in 1940, in a house on the Fontanka, a river in St Petersburg, and now the name given to the centre of the city, with the cathedrals and the palaces and the art galleries – where I stayed last weekend! This is Anna Akhmatova’s In Memory of Mikhail Bulgakov
This, not graveyard roses, is my gift;
And I won’t burn sticks of incense:
You died as unflinchingly as you lived,
With magnificent defiance.
Drank wine, and joked – were still the wittiest,
Choked on the stifling air.
You yourself let in the terrible guest
And stayed alone with her.
Now you’re no more. And at your funeral feast
We can expect no comment from the mutes
On your high, stricken life. One voice at east
Must break that silence, like a flute.
O, who would have believed that I who have been tossed
On a slow fire to smoulder, I, the buried days’
Orphan and weeping mother, I who have lost
Everything, and forgotten everyone, half-crazed –
Would be recalling one so full of energy
And will, and touched by that creative flame,
Who only yesterday, it seems, chatted to me,
Hiding the illness crucifying him.