Both M. and Akhmatova had the astonishing ability of somehow bridging time and space when they read the work of dead poets. By its very nature, such reading is usually anachronistic, but with them it meant entering into personal relations with the poet in question: it was a kind of conversation with someone long since departed. From the way in which he greeted his favorite poets of antiquity in the Inferno, M. suspected that Dante also had this ability. In his article “On the Nature of Words” he mentions Bergson’s search for links between things of the same kind that are separated only by time–in the same way, he thought, one can look for friends and allies across the barriers of both time and space. This would probably have been understood by Keats, who wanted to meet all his friends, living and dead, in a tavern.

–Nadezhda Mandelstam, Hope Against Hope

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