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For Osip Mandelstam

by
 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.

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