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

We’ll die in crystalline Petropolis

Whose ruling deity is Proserpina.

We swallow deadly air with every breath,

And every hour becomes a year of death.

Goddess of oceans, terrible Afina,

Resign your helmet’s stone magnificence.

We’ll die in crystalline Petropolis

Which is not ruled by you, but Proserpina.

From Carol Rumens, The Greening of the Snow Beach,  Bloodaxe, 1988.

The Russian National Library, crowned with a statue of Athena. Saint Petersburg, c.1920.