“We’ll die in crystalline Petropolis,” by Osip Mandelshtam, translated by Carol Rumens

Insomnia, Homer, taut sails, by Osip Mandelshtam

Translated by Philip Nikolayev   Insomnia, Homer, taut sails: my lips have lisped Down to the middle the detailed list of ships, That long brood and angular train of cranes That rose above Hellas once on wings of waves. A wedge of cranes into far foreign lands – Divine white froth forming upon kings’ heads – Where have you hoist sail to? If it were not for Helen What would… Read more

I am telling you with utter openness, by Osip Mandelshtam

  Ma voix aigre et fausse… P. Verlaine I’m telling you with utter Openness: All’s sheer fancy, sherry-frenzy, Dearest. Where earlier to a Hellene Beauty shone, There dark holes exposed to me A deep shame. Ancient Greeks they once filched Helen over the sea. On the lips with salty foam they stroke me. And the emptiness will dab me On the lips, The penury will give me the finger Austerеly.… Read more

Mandelshtam’s Greek Bees: Five poems by Reginald Gibbons

We present here five poems by Reginald Gibbons from his cycle “Dark Honey” (Last Lake, 2016), engaging in conversation with the poetry of Osip Mandelshtam. The final poem of the cycle, “For your sweet joy, take,” is a close rendering of a poem by Mandelshtam, in which the poet gives to his love a necklace of dead bees, who turned honey into sun. “Mandelshtam’s Greek bees” reflects on the same… Read more

Psyche-Life: Two poems by Carol Rumens

‘When Psyche-life follows Persephone…’   When, through translucent forest, Psyche-life follows Persephone down into the dark, a sightless swallow flings itself in her path with angry tenderness, and a twig in leaf.   The shades rush round to greet the visitor. They cry their miseries to a new-found friend and wring their feeble hands in bewilderment and timid longing, stretching out to her.   One offers her a mirror, one,… Read more

Divining Greek

By way of introduction into the subject of Mandelshtam’s connection with ancient Greece, we publish here an excerpt from the memoirs of Konstantin Mochulsky, Mandelshtam’s Greek tutor (The Crisis of Imagination: Articles, Essays, Portraits). “In 1912 Osip Emilievich began his studies at the Department of Philology of the Petersburg University. He needed to pass a Greek exam, and I offered him my help. He would come to lessons monstrously late,… Read more

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