Osip Mandelstam

NKVD_Mandelstam 003


2 poems today (in honor of the just declared Russian Week on Chimera) from Osip Mandelstam.

A complex and talented poet, trying to share his truths in a horrific time.

“Alone I stare into the frost’s white face”

translated by John High & Matvei Yankelevich
Alone I stare into the frost’s white face.
It’s going nowhere, and I—from nowhere.
Everything ironed flat, pleated without a wrinkle:
Miraculous, the breathing plain.
Meanwhile the sun squints at this starched poverty—
The squint itself consoled, at ease . . .
The ten-fold forest almost the same . . .
And snow crunches in the eyes, innocent, like clean bread.   – January 16, 1937

I was washing in the yard at night.
The firmament was brilliant with rude stars.
Starlight lay like salt upon the axe,
The barrel cooling, filled up to the brim.

The gates are tightly shut and locked,
And the earth is stern and conscientious.
No foundation is likely to be found
As pure as the truth of a fresh canvas.

Like a grain of salt, a star melts in the barrel,
And the cold water grows blacker –
Death grows purer, misfortune saltier,
And the earth more terrible and truthful* – 1921

 translated by Ilya Bernshtein

*written when Mandelstam learned of the death of Alexander Blok and the execution of Nikolay Gumilev*


About chimerapoet

I write. I write a lot. A. LOT. There are times I am half blind with a sentence ricocheting off the walls of my stupid, cant be shut off to save my life, brain. I am miserable until I get it down on paper. Punch it up a bit. Usually cross out half of it. And then breathe. Relax. Only to do it all again..... But I just thought that was me. How I am. Not a writer....noooo...not me. Writers are.....writing people. People Who Write. REALLY write. Write things that matter. All grown up very important things. Not.....me. I am just a scribbler of sorts. And I was/am content with that....if it's true, well then....a scribbler am I. Until the thought wormed its way in to my brain (the furtive sneaky bitch) that maybe...just maybe...that is writing. My style. My strange way. But....still writing. So here I am at the dance. Not sure I know any of the moves and the music is entirely mine. But.....only one way to find out. Would you care to join me?
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2 Responses to Osip Mandelstam

  1. unbolt says:

    Thank you for Russian Week on Chimera!
    Спасибо за Русскую Неделю на Химера!

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