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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Osip Mandelshtam

 
Osip Mandelshtam

"To Cure Wounds Is..."

To cure wounds is so rigid:
They drank the air and poisoned bread.
Young Joseph who was sold to Egypt
Could not be more deathly sad!

The nomads under starry dome,
With eyes, half-closed, and on horse,
Compose sagas, while they roam,
About day they vaguely crossed.

Few things they need for inspiration:
One lost his quiver in the sand;
One changed his horse ... . In peaceful fashion
The daily mist comes to its end;

And if a song is simply gaining
Your heart with non-predicted grace,
All vanish -- only they are reigning:
The stars, the singer, and the space!

"I Can't Sleep..."


I can’t sleep. Homer, and the taut white sails.
I could the list of ships read only to a half:
The long-long breed, the train of flying cranes
Had lifted once the ancient Greece above.

The wedge of cranes to alien far frontier --
On heads of kings, as foam, crowns shine --
Where do you sail? If Helen were not here,
What Troy then means for you, Achaeia’s people fine?

And Homer and the sea are moved by only love.
Whom must I listen to? Homer is silent yet,
And blackened sea with roar comes above,
Sunk in triumphant noise, head of my sleepless bed.

"I Had Not Tried the Wine..."

I had not tried the wine that ancients made,
And had not heard of Ossian’s old tune;
So why, on earth, I seem to see the glade,
And, in the skies -- the bloody Scottish moon?

And the call-over of a raven with a harp
I faintly hear in that silence, full of fright,
And, spread by winds, the winter woolen scarves
Of knights are flashing in the red moonlight!

I had received the blessing to inherit
Another singer’s ever rambling dreams;
For kin’s and neighbor’s  spiritual merits
To have despise we’re absolutely free.

And not a lone treasure, I suppose,
Will pass grandchildren and to others fling,
Again a scald will ancient songs compose,
And, as his own, will again them sing.
"O Heavens, Heavens..."

O heavens, heavens, see you in my dreams!
It is impossible -- you had become so blind,
And day was burned as if a page  -- to rims:
Some smoke and ashes, one could later find.

"I Often Shiver With Cold"

I often shiver with cold --
I want to be mute as a thing!
There is, in the skies, dancing gold
Sending me commands to sing!

Singer, be sad and upset,
Love, and remember, and call,
Catch, from a dark planet sent,
Light and magnificent ball.

That’s a true link, I believe,
With the mysterious worlds!
What an oppressive grief,
What a misfortune holds!

What if that star, as a pin,
Suddenly’ll pierce my heart?
That one, which shimmering spins
Over the shop apart?

"I Could Not Among..."

I could not among the misty clouds
Your unstable and painful image catch,
"Oh, my God", I promptly said aloud,
Having not a thought these words to fetch.

As a bird -- an immense bird and sound --
Holly Name flew out of my chest.
And ahead the  mist mysterious crowds,
And the empty cage behind me rests.

"No, Not the Moon..."


No, not the moon, but simple dial-plate
Is lightning me, and ‘tis my nasty fate,
That lights of stars I feel as light internal!

And loftiness of Batyushkov I hate:
"What time is it?" - he had been asked there
                                        late --

To M.L. Lozinsky


I feel the undefeated fear,
In presence of the misty heights;
I'm glad that swallows fly here
And I enjoy the belfry's flight!

The ancient traveler is going, I suppose,
Above the gulf on bending footway's planks,
The snow ball continues in its growth,
And great eternity on clocks of stone strikes.

But I am not that traveler at all,
That flashes on the dry and faded leaves,
And really in me the sadness calls;

Indeed, the avalanche among the highlands lives!
A ring of bells my own soul fills -
But music cannot save from devastating falls!

And he had answered with curiosity "Eternal!"




Translated by Yevgeny Bonver October, 1994