Quite soon after his posting to the UK Embassy in Russia, Isaiah Berlin travelled in November 1945 from Moscow to Leningrad, perhaps with as the main purpose visiting Anna Akhmatova. Through information in a local bookshop he obtained Akhmatova’s address and he went to visit her at the ancient Sheremetiev Palace. At nine in the evening Isaiah Berlin came to see her again….. and they spoke to each other all night. Akhmatova later wrote a poem about this visit, from which I cite in writing a part under this print:

“Sounds die away in ether,/And darkness overtakes dusk./In a world mute for all time,/There are only two voices, yours and mine./And to the almost bell-like sound/ Of the wind from invisible Lake Ladoga,/The late night dialogue turned into/The delicate shimmer of interlaced rainbows.”