Akhmatova was translating Macbeth in the early '30s
(a time she called "the vegetarian years" to distinguish
its charm from "the meat-eating years" still ahead).
For a poem in which he likened Stalin's fingers to worms
Osip Mandelstam was arrested in May 1934. All night
the police searched his papers and threw them out on the floor
to the sound of an ukelele
from the next apartment.
Akhmatova never finished Macbeth although
she liked to quote her hero saying people
in my homeland die faster than
the flowers on their hats.
Anne Carson, Men in the Off Hours, Cape Poetry, 2000.