By the 1950s, Anna Akhmatova had emerged as the leading female voice in the creatively compelling chorus of celebrated Soviet-era poets. Her early output was primarily concerned with themes of passion and romance. Still, the horrors of war and the severity of the Stalinist regime soon required creating a more sombre and reflective kind of poetry, one that furtively and tentatively expressed a disenchantment with public affairs and a yearning for prohibited desires.