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”
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*