In the hope of saving his own life, Mandelstam was then composing an Ode to Stalin; he evidently imagined an axis connecting himself — the great poet — and Stalin — the great leader. In May Mandelstam was arrested a second time, then sentenced to five years in the Gulag. He died in a transit camp near Vladivostok on 27 December His widow preserved most of his unpublished work and also wrote two memoirs, published in English as Hope against Hope and Hope Abandoned.
Life has tired me to death; life has no more to offer.
But I love my poor earth since I know no other. I swung in a far-away garden on a plain plank swing; I remember tall dark firs in a feverish blur. She has yet to be born: she is music and word, and she eternally bonds all life in this world. The sea breathes gently; the day glitters wildly. A bowl of dazed azure sways pale foam-lilac. May I too reach back to that ancient silence, like a note of crystal pure from its source.
Stay, Aphrodite, as foam. Return, word, to music. A dusty poplar in the Northern capital, a transparent clock-face lost in the leaves; and, shining through this green — a brother to both sky and water — a frigate, an acropolis. Four elements rule over us benignly; free man is able to create a fifth. And pale blue ice is streaming through the air. Salome, broken straw, you sipped at death, drank all of death, and only grew more sweet.
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December now streams out her solemn breath. Twelve moons are singing of the hour of death, the room is gone, the Neva takes its place, Ligeia, winter herself, flows through my blood, and I have learned to hear you, words of grace. Lenore, Solominka, Ligeia, Seraphita. The heavy Neva fills the spacious room. Salome, my beloved straw, Solominka, poisoned by pity, slowly sips her doom. And pale blue blood runs streaming from the stone. From all I see only a river will remain. Twelve moons are singing of the hour of death.
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And Salome will never dance this dance again. Help me, Lord, to survive this night. I fear for life, your slave. I fear life in Petersburg might be the sleep of the grave.
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After midnight, clean out of your hands, the heart seizes a sliver of silence. Like it or not, it can never be grasped; so why shiver, like a child off the street, if after midnight the heart holds a feast, silently savouring a silvery mouse? In Iceland, they eat puffin. The best-tasting puffin is soaked overnight in milk. If you look into infinity what do you see? Your backside! The White Review. Toggle navigation.
Goddess of the Hunt & Soft in the Middle – Poetry that pulls at my heart strings | Word Wonders
Latest Reviews Features Fiction Poetry. Print Prizes Events Shop. Penguin Classics have already published his anthologies of Russian short stories and of Russian magic tales. Infinity Pressed down upon the finite Me! My anguished spirit, like a bird, Beating against my lips I heard; Yet lay the weight so close about There was no room for it without.
And so beneath the weight lay I And suffered death, but could not die. Long had I lain thus, craving death, When quietly the earth beneath Gave way, and inch by inch, so great At last had grown the crushing weight, Into the earth I sank till I Full six feet under ground did lie, And sank no more, -- there is no weight Can follow here, however great.
From off my breast I felt it roll, And as it went my tortured soul Burst forth and fled in such a gust That all about me swirled the dust. Deep in the earth I rested now; Cool is its hand upon the brow And soft its breast beneath the head Of one who is so gladly dead. And all at once, and over all The pitying rain began to fall; I lay and heard each pattering hoof Upon my lowly, thatched roof, And seemed to love the sound far more Than ever I had done before.
For rain it hath a friendly sound To one who's six feet underground; And scarce the friendly voice or face: A grave is such a quiet place. The rain, I said, is kind to come And speak to me in my new home. I would I were alive again To kiss the fingers of the rain, To drink into my eyes the shine Of every slanting silver line, To catch the freshened, fragrant breeze From drenched and dripping apple-trees.
For soon the shower will be done, And then the broad face of the sun Will laugh above the rain-soaked earth Until the world with answering mirth Shakes joyously, and each round drop Rolls, twinkling, from its grass-blade top. How can I bear it; buried here, While overhead the sky grows clear And blue again after the storm?
O, multi-colored, multiform, Beloved beauty over me, That I shall never, never see Again! Spring-silver, autumn-gold, That I shall never more behold! Sleeping your myriad magics through, Close-sepulchred away from you!
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O God, I cried, give me new birth, And put me back upon the earth! Upset each cloud's gigantic gourd And let the heavy rain, down-poured In one big torrent, set me free, Washing my grave away from me! I ceased; and through the breathless hush That answered me, the far-off rush Of herald wings came whispering Like music down the vibrant string Of my ascending prayer, and -- crash! Before the wild wind's whistling lash The startled storm-clouds reared on high And plunged in terror down the sky, And the big rain in one black wave Fell from the sky and struck my grave.
I know not how such things can be; I only know there came to me A fragrance such as never clings To aught save happy living things; A sound as of some joyous elf Singing sweet songs to please himself, And, through and over everything, A sense of glad awakening. The grass, a-tiptoe at my ear, Whispering to me I could hear; I felt the rain's cool finger-tips Brushed tenderly across my lips, Laid gently on my sealed sight, And all at once the heavy night Fell from my eyes and I could see, -- A drenched and dripping apple-tree, A last long line of silver rain, A sky grown clear and blue again.
And as I looked a quickening gust Of wind blew up to me and thrust Into my face a miracle Of orchard-breath, and with the smell, -- I know not how such things can be! Up then from the ground sprang I And hailed the earth with such a cry As is not heard save from a man Who has been dead, and lives again. About the trees my arms I wound; Like one gone mad I hugged the ground; I raised my quivering arms on high; I laughed and laughed into the sky, Till at my throat a strangling sob Caught fiercely, and a great heart-throb Sent instant tears into my eyes; O God, I cried, no dark disguise Can e'er hereafter hide from me Thy radiant identity!
Thou canst not move across the grass But my quick eyes will see Thee pass, Nor speak, however silently, But my hushed voice will answer Thee. I know the path that tells Thy way Through the cool eve of every day; God, I can push the grass apart And lay my finger on Thy heart! The world stands out on either side No wider than the heart is wide; Above the world is stretched the sky, -- No higher than the soul is high.
The heart can push the sea and land Farther away on either hand; The soul can split the sky in two, And let the face of God shine through. But East and West will pinch the heart That can not keep them pushed apart; And he whose soul is flat -- the sky Will cave in on him by and by. Edna St. Vincent Millay The Suicide "Curse thee, Life, I will live with thee no more! Thou hast mocked me, starved me, beat my body sore!
And all for a pledge that was not pledged by me, I have kissed thy crust and eaten sparingly That I might eat again, and met thy sneers With deprecations, and thy blows with tears,— Aye, from thy glutted lash, glad, crawled away, As if spent passion were a holiday! And now I go. Nor threat, nor easy vow Of tardy kindness can avail thee now With me, whence fear and faith alike are flown; Lonely I came, and I depart alone, And know not where nor unto whom I go; But that thou canst not follow me I know.
I have been heated in thy fires, Bent by thy hands, fashioned to thy desires, Thy mark is on me! I am not the same Nor ever more shall be, as when I came. Ashes am I of all that once I seemed. In me all's sunk that leapt, and all that dreamed Is wakeful for alarm,—oh, shame to thee, For the ill change that thou hast wrought in me, Who laugh no more nor lift my throat to sing Ah, Life, I would have been a pleasant thing To have about the house when I was grown If thou hadst left my little joys alone!
I asked of thee no favor save this one: That thou wouldst leave me playing in the sun!
And this thou didst deny, calling my name Insistently, until I rose and came. I saw the sun no more. Warm lights in many a secret chamber shine Of thy gaunt house, and gusts of song have blown Like blossoms out to me that sat alone! And I have waited well for thee to show If any share were mine,—and now I go Nothing I leave, and if I naught attain I shall but come into mine own again!
Heavy it was, and low And dark,—a way by which none e'er would go That other exit had, and never knock Was heard thereat,—bearing a curious lock Some chance had shown me fashioned faultily, Whereof Life held content the useless key, And great coarse hinges, thick and rough with rust, Whose sudden voice across a silence must, I knew, be harsh and horrible to hear,— A strange door, ugly like a dwarf. So stood longtime, till over me at last Came weariness, and all things other passed To make it room; the still night drifted deep Like snow about me, and I longed for sleep.
But, suddenly, marking the morning hour, Bayed the deep-throated bell within the tower! Startled, I raised my head,—and with a shout Laid hold upon the latch,—and was without. There in the night I came, And found them feasting, and all things the same As they had been before. A splendour hung Upon the walls, and such sweet songs were sung As, echoing out of very long ago, Had called me from the house of Life, I know. So fair their raiment shone I looked in shame On the unlovely garb in which I came; Then straightway at my hesitancy mocked: "It is my father's house! All alone I wandered through the house.
My own, my own, My own to touch, my own to taste and smell, All I had lacked so long and loved so well! None shook me out of sleep, nor hushed my song, Nor called me in from the sunlight all day long. I know not when the wonder came to me Of what my father's business might be, And whither fared and on what errands bent The tall and gracious messengers he sent. Yet one day with no song from dawn till night Wondering, I sat, and watched them out of sight. And the next day I called; and on the third Asked them if I might go,—but no one heard.
Then, sick with longing, I arose at last And went unto my father,—in that vast Chamber wherein he for so many years Has sat, surrounded by his charts and spheres.