Selected Poems

Selected Poems

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By (author)  , Translated by  , Foreword by 

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James Greene's acclaimed translations of the poetry of Osip Mandelshtam, now in an extensively revised and augmented edition.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 144 pages
  • 129 x 198 x 9.65mm | 117.93g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Revised ed.
  • 0140184740
  • 9780140184747
  • 445,818

Table of contents

Selected PoemsForeword by Nadezhda Mandelshtam
Foreword by Donald Davie
Translator's Preface
Introduction by Donald Rayfield
From Stone (1913, 1916, 1923 and 1928)
The careful muffled sound
Suddenly, from the dimly lit hall
To read only children's books
On pale-blue enamel
What shall I do with the body I've been given
A sadness beyond words
Words are unnecessary
Ear-drums stretch their sensitive sail
Like the shadow of sudden clouds
I grew, rustling like a reed
Sultry dusk covers the couch
How slowly the horses move
Light sows a meagre beam
The sea-shell
I hate the light
In the haze your image
No, not the moon, but a bright clock-face
The traveller
The casino
The Lutheran
Hagia Sophia
Notre Dame
Poisoned bread, satiated air
Horses' hooves...The clatter
There are orioles in the woods
Nature is Roman, and mirrored in Rome
Sleeplessness. Homer. Taut sails
Herds of horses gaily neigh or graze

Unpublished in the Struve/Filippov editions
Newly reaped ears

Two poems first published by Struve/Filippov, 1964
The hunters have trapped you
The old men of Euripides, an abject throng

From Tristia (1922)
- How the splendour of these veils and of this dress
We shall die in transparent Petropolis
This night is irredeemable
Disbelieving the miracle of resurrection
Out of the bottle the stream of golden honey poured so slowly
Spring's transparent-grey asphodels
Sisters: heaviness and tenderness bear the same insignia
Return to the incestuous lap
When Psyche - life - descends among shades
I have forgotten the word I wanted to say
For the sake of delight
Here is the pyx, like a golden sun
Because I had to let go of your arms
When the city moon looks out on the streets
When, on my lips a singing name, I stepped
I like the grey silences under the arches

From Poems (1928)
I was washing at night in the courtyard
To some, winter is arrack and a blue-eyed punch
Rosy foam of fatigue on his sensual lips
As the leaven swells
I climbed into the tousled hayloft
My time
Whoever finds a horsehoe
1 January 1924

Two Poems Published in NOVY MIR (1931 and 1932)

Poems Published Posthumously
I was only in a childish way connected with the established order
Help me, O Lord, to get through this night
For the resounding glory of eras to come
I drink to the blossoming epaulette
We exist, without sensing our country beneath us
The body of King Arshak is unwashed
Your narrow shoulders are to redden under scourges
Black earth
Yes, I'm lying in the earth, moving my lips
You took away my seas and running jumps and sky
My country conversed with me
For those hundred-carat ingots, Roman nights
A wave advances - one wave breaking another's backbone
I shall perform a smoky rite
I shall not return my borrowed dust
I can't make sense of today
Like a belated present
I would sing of him who shifted the axis of the world
You still haven't died, you're still not alone
I look the frost in the face, alone
Oh, these suffocating, asthmatic spaces of the steppes
Plagued by their miraculous and all-engulfing hunger
Don't compare: anyone alive is matchless
What has contended with oxide and alloys
The mounds of human heads disappear into the distance
Listening, listening to the early ice
A little boy, his red face shining like a lamp
Where can I put myself this January?
Like Rembrandt, martyr of light and dark
Breaks of the rounded bays, shingle, blue
I sing when my throat is damp, my soul dry
Eyes once keener than a sharpened scythe
Armed with the insight of narrow wasps
I am plunged into a lion's den, a fort
If our enemies take me
Life's reticulations loosen, madness looms
This is what I want most of all
This azure island was exalted by its potters
As if words were not enough
I raise this greenness to my lips
With her delightful uneven way of walking

Notes and Acknowledgments
Further Reading
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About Osip Mandel'shtam

Osip Mandelshtam ranks among the most significant Russian poets of the early twentieth century. Born in Warsaw, Poland, in or around 1891, his family soon moved to St. Petersburg, Russia. His poetry and prose were seen as critical of the Communist regime, forcing him into exile until 1937. He was later sent to a Soviet work camp, and the government reported he death in 1938, due to heart failure.
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Rating details

1,841 ratings
4.26 out of 5 stars
5 51% (932)
4 31% (579)
3 13% (242)
2 4% (68)
1 1% (20)
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