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Best Famous Osip Mandelstam Poems

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by Osip Mandelstam | |

This

 self-congratulatory nonsense as the
famous gather to applaud their seeming
greatness
you
wonder where 
the real ones are
what 
giant cave
hides them
as
the deathly talentless
bow to
accolades
as
the fools are
fooled
again
you 
wonder where 
the real ones are
if there are
real ones.
this self-congratulatory nonsense has lasted decades and with some exceptions centuries.
this is so dreary is so absolutely pitiless it churns the gut to powder shackles hope it makes little things like pulling up a shade or putting on your shoes or walking out on the street more difficult near damnable as the famous gather to applaud their seeming greatness as the fools are fooled again humanity you sick motherfucker.


by Osip Mandelstam | |

This

 Today, my love,
leaves are thrashing the wind
just as pedestrians are erecting again the buildings of this drab
forbidding city,
and our lives, as I lose track of them,
are the lives of others derailing in time and
getting things done.
Impossible to make sense of any one face or mouth, though each distance is clear, and you are miles from here.
Let your pure space crowd my heart, that we might stay awhile longer amid the flying debris.
This moment, I swear it, isn't going anywhere.


by Osip Mandelstam | |

Insomnia. Homer. Taut canvas.

 Insomnia.
Homer.
Taut canvas.
Half the catalogue of ships is mine: that flight of cranes, long stretched-out line, that once rose, out of Hellas.
To an alien land, like a phalanx of cranes – Foam of the gods on the heads of kings – Where do you sail? What would the things of Troy, be to you, Achaeans, without Helen? The sea, or Homer – all moves by love’s glow.
Which should I hear? Now Homer is silent, and the Black Sea thundering its oratory, turbulent, and, surging, roars against my pillow.


More great poems below...

by Osip Mandelstam | |

The Age

 My age, my beast, is there anyone
Who can peer into your eyes
And with his own blood fuse
Two centuries' worth of vertebrae?
The creating blood gushes
From the throat of earthly things,
And the parasite just trembles
On the threshold of new days.
While the creature still has life, The spine must be delivered, While with the unseen backbone A wave distracts itself.
Again they've brought the peak of life Like a sacrificial lamb, Like a child's supple cartilage— The age of infant earth.
To free the age from its confinement, To instigate a brand new world, The discordant, tangled days Must be linked, as with a flute.
It's the age that rocks the swells With humanity's despair, And in the undergrowth a serpent breathes The golden measure of the age.
Still the shoots will swell And the green buds sprout But your spinal cord is crushed, My fantastic, wretched age! And in lunatic beatitude You look back, cruel and weak, Like a beast that once was agile, At the tracks left by your feet.
The creating blood gushes From the throat of earthly things, The lukewarm cartilage of oceans Splashes like a seething fish ashore.
And from the bird net spread on high From the humid azure stones, Streams a flood of helpless apathy On your single, fatal wound.


by Osip Mandelstam | |

A flame is in my blood

 A flame is in my blood
burning dry life, to the bone.
I do not sing of stone, now, I sing of wood.
It is light and coarse: made of a single spar, the oak’s deep heart, and the fisherman’s oar.
Drive them deep, the piles: hammer them in tight, around wooden Paradise, where everything is light.


by Osip Mandelstam | |

This

 This is what I most want
unpursued, alone
to reach beyond the light
that I am furthest from.
And for you to shine there- no other happiness- and learn, from starlight, what its fire might suggest.
A star burns as a star, light becomes light, because our murmuring strengthens us, and warms the night.
And I want to say to you my little one, whispering, I can only lift you towards the light by means of this babbling.


by Osip Mandelstam | |

What shall I do with this body they gave me

 What shall I do with this body they gave me,
so much my own, so intimate with me?

For being alive, for the joy of calm breath,
tell me, who should I bless?

I am the flower, and the gardener as well,
and am not solitary, in earth’s cell.
My living warmth, exhaled, you can see, on the clear glass of eternity.
A pattern set down, until now, unknown.
Breath evaporates without trace, but form no one can deface.


by Osip Mandelstam | |

This night is irredeemable

 This night is irredeemable.
Where you are, it is still bright.
At the gates of Jerusalem, a black sun is alight.
The yellow sun is hurting, sleep, baby, sleep.
The Jews in the Temple’s burning buried my mother deep.
Without rabbi, without blessing, over her ashes, there, the Jews in the Temple’s burning chanted the prayer.
Over this mother, Israel’s voice was sung.
I woke in a glittering cradle, lit by a black sun.


by Osip Mandelstam | |

I don’t remember the word I wished to say

 I don’t remember the word I wished to say.
The blind swallow returns to the hall of shadow, on shorn wings, with the translucent ones to play.
The song of night is sung without memory, though.
No birds.
No blossoms on the dried flowers.
The manes of night’s horses are translucent.
An empty boat drifts on the naked river.
Lost among grasshoppers the word’s quiescent.
It swells slowly like a shrine, or a canvas sheet, hurling itself down, mad, like Antigone, or falls, now, a dead swallow at our feet.
with a twig of greenness, and a Stygian sympathy.
O, to bring back the diffidence of the intuitive caress, and the full delight of recognition.
I am so fearful of the sobs of The Muses, the mist, the bell-sounds, perdition.
Mortal creatures can love and recognise: sound may pour out, for them, through their fingers, and overflow: I don’t remember the word I wished to say, and a fleshless thought returns to the house of shadow.
The translucent one speaks in another guise, always the swallow, dear one, Antigone.
.
.
.
on the lips the burning of black ice, and Stygian sounds in the memory.


by Osip Mandelstam | |

Brothers let us glorify freedom’s twilight

 Brothers, let us glorify freedom’s twilight –
the great, darkening year.
Into the seething waters of the night heavy forests of nets disappear.
O Sun, judge, people, your light is rising over sombre years Let us glorify the deadly weight the people’s leader lifts with tears.
Let us glorify the dark burden of fate, power’s unbearable yoke of fears.
How your ship is sinking, straight, he who has a heart, Time, hears.
We have bound swallows into battle legions - and we, we cannot see the sun: nature’s boughs are living, twittering, moving, totally: through the nets –the thick twilight - now we cannot see the sun, and Earth floats free.
Let’s try: a huge, clumsy, turn then of the creaking helm, and, see - Earth floats free.
Take heart, O men.
Slicing like a plough through the sea, Earth, to us, we know, even in Lethe’s icy fen, has been worth a dozen heavens’ eternity.


by Osip Mandelstam | |

Silentium

 She has not yet been born:
she is music and word,
and therefore the untorn,
fabric of what is stirred.
Silent the ocean breathes.
Madly day’s glitter roams.
Spray of pale lilac foams, in a bowl of grey-blue leaves.
May my lips rehearse the primordial silence, like a note of crystal clearness, sounding, pure from birth! Stay as foam Aphrodite – Art – and return, Word, where music begins: and, fused with life’s origins, be ashamed heart, of heart!


by Osip Mandelstam | |

Petropolis

 From a fearful height, a wandering light,
but does a star glitter like this, crying?
Transparent star, wandering light
your brother, Petropolis, is dying.
From a fearful height, earthly dreams are alight, and a green star is crying.
Oh star, if you are the brother of water and light, your brother, Petropolis, is dying.
A monstrous ship, from a fearful height, is rushing on, spreading its wings, flying.
Green star, in beautiful poverty, your brother, Petropolis, is dying.
Transparent spring has broken, above the black Neva’s hiss the wax of immortality is liquefying.
Oh if you are star – your city, Petropolis, your brother, Petropolis, is dying.


by Osip Mandelstam | |

Tristia

 I have studied the Science of departures,
in night’s sorrows, when a woman’s hair falls down.
The oxen chew, there’s the waiting, pure, in the last hours of vigil in the town, and I reverence night’s ritual cock-crowing, when reddened eyes lift sorrow’s load and choose to stare at distance, and a woman’s crying is mingled with the singing of the Muse.
Who knows, when the word ‘departure’ is spoken what kind of separation is at hand, or of what that cock-crow is a token, when a fire on the Acropolis lights the ground, and why at the dawning of a new life, when the ox chews lazily in its stall, the cock, the herald of the new life, flaps his wings on the city wall? I like the monotony of spinning, the shuttle moves to and fro, the spindle hums.
Look, barefoot Delia’s running to meet you, like swansdown on the road! How threadbare the language of joy’s game, how meagre the foundation of our life! Everything was, and is repeated again: it’s the flash of recognition brings delight.
So be it: on a dish of clean earthenware, like a flattened squirrel’s pelt, a shape, forms a small, transparent figure, where a girl’s face bends to gaze at the wax’s fate.
Not for us to prophesy, Erebus, Brother of Night: Wax is for women: Bronze is for men.
Our fate is only given in fight, to die by divination is given to them.


by Osip Mandelstam | |

Rome

 Rome is but nature's twin, which has reflected Rome.
We see its civic might, the signs of its decorum In the transparent air, the firmament's blue dome, The colonnades of groves and in the meadow's forum.


by Osip Mandelstam | |

Sisters

 Sisters - Heaviness and Tenderness- you look the same.
Wasps and bees both suck the heavy rose.
Man dies, and the hot sand cools again.
Carried off on a black stretcher, yesterday’s sun goes.
Oh, honeycombs’ heaviness, nets’ tenderness, it’s easier to lift a stone than to say your name! I have one purpose left, a golden purpose, how, from time’s weight, to free myself again.
I drink the turbid air like a dark water.
The rose was earth; time, ploughed from underneath.
Woven, the heavy, tender roses, in a slow vortex, the roses, heaviness and tenderness, in a double-wreath.


by Anna Akhmatova | |

For Osip Mandelstam

 And the town is frozen solid in a vice,
Trees, walls, snow, beneath a glass.
Over crystal, on slippery tracks of ice, the painted sleighs and I, together, pass.
And over St Peter’s there are poplars, crows there’s a pale green dome there that glows, dim in the sun-shrouded dust.
The field of heroes lingers in my thought, Kulikovo’s barbarian battleground.
The frozen poplars, like glasses for a toast, clash now, more noisily, overhead.
As though it was our wedding, and the crowd were drinking to our health and happiness.
But Fear and the Muse take turns to guard the room where the exiled poet is banished, and the night, marching at full pace, of the coming dawn, has no knowledge.