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OSIP MANDELSTAM. TRISTIA (TRANLSATION BY ILYA SHAMBAT)



It's so my own and so familiar. What should I do with this God-given flesh and blood?
For joys so quiet as to live and breathe, Who will receive my gratitude for these?
I'm both the gardener and flower one, In this world's dungeons I am not alone.
On the glass of the eternal one can see The traces of my breath and of the warmth of me.
Henceforth it bears a pattern which is mine Even to me unknown from recent times.
Let it be drained, the turmoil of the day - The lovely pattern won't be crossed away.

SILENTIUM She has not taken her first sigh - She is the word and music both - And thus of all that lives and grows A timeless and unbroken tie.
Placidly breathe the breasts of sea The day is bright, as if gone mad, The sea foam's pallid lilacs stand In vase of lapis lazuli.
O, would my lips accept the lure Of muteness prime, now so remote, Reminding of a crystal notes That are innately truly pure.
Be foam, O Venus, stay as mists, And words to music do return And heart, at heart's own shame do burn, Fused with the core of what exists!


X X X An inexpressible sorrow Two giant pupils opened wide, A vase of flowers rose beside And into air her crystals threw
The room was filled three meters deep With dreaminess - hello sweet balm! That such a liliputian realm Could have consumed so much of sleep.
A bit of wine a bit of cake - A bit of sunny May despite - And thinnest fingers snowy white, Alive at last, have stretched awake.


X X X A snow hive cleaner than the air, Crystal more see-through than the glass A turquoise veil adorned with brass Carelessly tossed upon a chair.
A cloth made drunk of her own glow Caressed by tenderness of light Experienced the summer bright As though it were the winter snow.
And if through diamonds made of ice Frosts of eternities were streaming Here is the flutter of the dreaming Fast-living blue-eyed dragonflies.


X X X Blackened wind weaves patterns hollow Under barely breathing leaves And a trembling little swallow In dark skies a circle weaves.
Quietly argue in the heart Dear, dying, mine despite, An impending dusk apart Of an ebbing ray of light.
And above the woods of dusk Has arisen copper moon; Why so little song, I ask, And such silence in the lone?


X X X Why is the soul so lyrical And so few are the names I love And the ready rhythm but a miracle Like Aquillon from above?
He will raise clouds of dust in a hurry He will leaf through the paper stack And he will not come back - or maybe As another he will come back?
Winds of Orpheus are embracing - You will leave for the sea and sky - And, the world not created praising, I forgot the superfluous "I".
In a make-believe grove I have wandered And into an azure cave delved.. Am I really real, I ponder, And death will claim my true self?


X X X Perhaps you not need me not this minute, Night; from sea foams of the world - A shell without a pearl within it - Upon your shores I have been hurled.
With mists the ocean you embellish And wordlessly you sing as well; But you will love, and you will cherish The pretense of a useless shell.
On ocean sands you lie next to her In misty haze you dress her well And with tight roping you tie to her An oversized and brazen bell.
And then the seashell, fragile, empty, A lonely heart that beats in vain, You fill with sea foam's whispers plenty, With fog with wind and with light rain.


X X X Oh your image, haunting me yet blurred, In the fog I could not touch or feel. "Goodness me" by error slipped the word Unawares, yet heeding its appeal.
Name of god, like a large bird, so intensely, Took a flight right out of my chest. Straight ahead the fog is steaming densely And behind me, cage's emptiness.


X X X White light falls in cold measure In damp forest on summer day In my heart I am slowly carrying Sadness, like bird colored gray.
What to do with a bird that is wounded? She went silent, then died as well. From a fogged-over belltower Someone has stolen the bell.
And here stands the silent Muted and orphaned height Like a tower white and empty In foggy and quiet night.
Morning abysmally tender Semi-awake, semi-dream, Foggy ringing of thoughts, Oblivion like a scream.


THE SNAKE The dusk of autumn - just like rusted metal Sings, violates and eats through flesh That falls like all temptation and Cresus's capital Before the razor blade of your anguish.
My God! Like by a dancing snake I'm falling Exhausted, and before her I am meek; My soul's salvation I am not extolling The reason or the muse I do not seek.
Enough untying with my wits or essence A finely woven yarn of smart replies There are no words for laments and confessions, Heavy and shallow is my cup of lies.
Why do you breathe? On stones you will be dancing, Sick python you, then curling in a ball; Next moment swing and twist as if romancing, And instantly in expiration fall.
And uselessly the day of execution, Agape at all the sound and all the sight, I listen as has fearlessly come completion, The screech of metal and the wind's dark might!


X X X Today is an ominous day: Grasshoppers singing is down And shadow of rocks far away Is darker than coroner's gown.
There's jingle of shimmering arrows And screams of crows grown wise, I dream of terrible sorrows Moment past moment flies.
Move skeins of events apart Break through the earth's cage Rebelling anthem impart The copper of secret rage!
The pendulum on the clock Of souls is strict, swings with hate, And ominous is the knock Of fate on the secret gate.


OVERPASS I feel a fear that I cannot defy In presence of the secretive above. Like swallow I am happy in the sky And loftiness of towers I love. It seems as though the ancient overpass Over abyss on bending beams that groan I hear. A snowball grows and gathers mass, Eternity beats on the hours of stone.
When would it be! But it is not my role To dance on faded leaves and scream and hiss And sadness sings in me without control - I feel an avalanche in heaven's bliss! And in the bell tower you can find my soul But music will not save from the Abyss!


X X X No, not the moon, a luminous clock face Shines from the sky, and what is my disgrace, That I can feel the weak star's pallid force?
And loathsome to me is Batyushkov's rhyme: They asked him here once what was the time Eternity, he told them in response.


X X X I cannot stand the rays Of banal stars at night Greetings, my madness old, Gun tower's searing height.
Become a whirling stone A cobweb become instead: The empty heaven's chest Wound with a thinning thread.
My time will come as well Spreading the wings as I ought But whereverfrom comes Arrow of living thought?
Exhausting my way or my time I'll be back again here; There I could not love, Here to love I fear.


CASINO I take no joy in the pleasures of the strife And nature is a graying dot today And only in light drunkenness I may Experience the colors of my life. The wind is playing with a cloud immersed An anchor falls to bottom of the sea And breathless like a canvas under me Soul overhangs abysses of the cursed.
But I adore casino on the sea The foggy window swinging avidly On rippling cloth a ray of sun shines through Surrounded by water green and blue When like a rose a glass of wine is full I see the flapping wings of a seagull!


VILLAGE OF THE TSAR Let's head to village of the Tsar Where drunken, swept by wind and free Young men are smiling right at me Riding on horseback high and far. Let's head to village of the Tsar!
Parks, castles, stables in a row And on the trees are lumps of snow And to the shouts - "be well, hotshots" The words "be well" ring back like shots - Parks, castles, stables in a row.
One-story houses wide and far Where generals of single mind Shorten their lifetimes going blind Reading Dumas and "Nieva": Mansions - not houses - wide and far.
Train whistles. Riding in, a knight, With retinue in pavilions full of light A sword behind him sternly dragging Officer leaves the cabin, ragging: I do not doubt this is a knight!
And man is coming home again - Where etiquette and decor reign A fear-instilling chariot A grey-haired fraulein on the spot Knows, man is coming home again...


GOLDEN COIN All day long the autumn's dampened air In confoundment and angst I have inhaled. I would like a supper - and the stars are In a blackened purse and gold and pale!
And as with a yellow fog o'ergrown, I descend into a tiny hole; Nowhere such a restaurant have I known Nor such company can I recall.
Petty bureaucrats, Japanese dealers, Theologians of a foreign trust.. On the porch a man is feeling dollars And they all are drunken to the last.
Be so kind to me, and change my money. I am asking him persistently - Only do not give me paper money, I can't stand the crumpled bills of three.
What to do with all this drunken crowd? How have I lucked in here, I enjoin? If I have the right, I ask out loud, Won't you change for me my golden coin?


OLD MAN It's dawn, sirens are wailing, Seven a.m. You that appear like Verlen, Wake up old man!
Eyes childish, angling, Green fire makes ash; Upon the neck is hanging A colored sash.
He curses, mutters, mumbles Words lost within; He wants to make confession But first to sin.
A disappointed worker A bitter one The eye, beat up in melee, Shines like the sun.
Thus having followed Sabbath, He drags his feet: Happy privation stares From every street.
At home, flying with curse words And white with rage, A harsh wife meets and screams at The drunken sage.


ST. PETERSBURG Above the federal buildings' yellow gown A hazy flurry circles far and wide Within the sled the coachman sits down And with broad gesture hides his coat inside.
Ships fall asleep. And in the evening, rocking, Thick cabin windows fill to brim with light. And monstrously - just like a fortress docking - Russia is breathing heavily at night.
On the Nieva stand hundred embassies; Admiralty, the sun, and silence glare. The state's tight porphyry upon us sits, Poor like an uncouth bodice made of hair.
Hard is the journey of the Northern snob - Eugene Onegin's well-cliche'ed despair; On Senate square are mounds of fallen snow A bonfire's smoke, and chill of steel made bare.
The ducks are sipping water, and the gulls In waving folds of sea are gently lurking Where, selling lumps of beef or tender rolls, Like opera singers peasant men are walking.
Into the fog a row of birds is flying: Self-loving, modest march can't wait. That goof Onegin, poverty decrying Is breathing gasoline and cursing fate.


X X X Foreigner sits in a stifling tavern In the hour when all seems dead, Leaving behind the dullard drunkards I walk out and clear my head.
Courage of the midnight women And the crazy stars' cold might, And a bum is begging money For a room to spend the night.
Who, please tell me, in this moment With the grape will dull my wits, If the dock is work of Peter Copper horseman, granite streets.
I hear signals from the fortress I feel warmth drift from the sea. Shots of cannon through the cellars Have been ringing probably.
And much deeper than the ringing Of that inflamed head on me Are the stars, stark conversation, And a Nieva westerly.


THE LUTHERAN On Sunday walk near Protestant cathedral I came across a funeral in motion The absent-minded passerby I noticed Put all of them in a severe commotion.
The foreign language did not reach my ear And only a thin whiplash shone clear And the empty holiday thoroughfare Reflected lazy horseshoes from the rear.
And in elastic darkness of the chariot Where sadness, hypocrite, hid her face, Wordless and tearless, lost for hellos, In vase the autumn roses interlaced.
Foreigners followed in a black procession And tear-drenched dames were walking in their stead Blushed cheeks covered with veils, and with direction The horseman ruled above them: Straight ahead!
Whoever you have been, deceased Lutheran, Lightly they buried you and lightly sang. The eyes were fogged over with decent tears And with reserve above you church bells rang.
And then I thought: I need not proselytyze. We are not prophets, not preachers if I may, We don't like heaven, hell we do not fear, We shine like candles in the middle of the day.


HAGIA SOFIA 1. Hagia Sofia - here to stop and stare The Lord has ordered people and the tsars! Your dome, as an eyewitness once described it, As if by chains is hanging from the stars. 2. To all a shining light - age of Justinian, When to steal off for foreign gods unseen Dedicated Diana the Ephesian Hundred and seven marble columns green. 3. To what aspired your generous creator, When high in spirit and in reason blessed, He laid your features on the ground And pointed them directions east and west? 4. The temple shines, in the world's aura bathing, And forty windows - triumph of the light; On sails under the dome the four archangels Finest of all and basking in delight. 5. This building will outlast people and ages So wise and spherical and nobly built And incandescent weeping of the angels Will not corrode away the darkened gilt.


NOTRE DAME 1. Where Roman magistrate once judged the foreign nation Basilica stands. With muscles bursts A light and cross-shaped bridge: Christ joyful, like the first Adam, having spread his nerves out in elation. 2. But will reveal itself the hidden plan! Here might of granite arches took good care That ram-like daring overpass stood there Yet loaded massive walls were good to stand. 3. A desert labyrinth, a forest timeless, A rational abyss across the gothic soul, Oak and kingdom to adorn the hall Egyptian might and Christian shyness. 4. But what is more important, Notre Dame, Your monstrous ribs I studied from the start And oft I thought: I too will make fine art From sturdy heaviness through which I came.


X X X "How luxury of these wares and robes and lace Is loathsome to me in my disgrace" "In the stone Troezene A famous sorrow will be Stairs in the king's name Will grow red from shame Black sun will rise above A mother in love" "Oh if the hatred only in my chest had boiled But recognition from my lips recoiled" "Phaedra burns with a black flame in broad daylight A funeral torch burns in broad daylight Fear your mother, Hippolitus, Phaedra the night guards you in broad daylight" "With black love I blotched the sun's face Death will cool my ash from a clean vase." "We fear, we do not dare Help relieve the king's despair. Hearbroken with Theseus, Night attacked him too We, with a funeral song Send the dead along Passion sleepless and wild Will have the black sun reviled."


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OSIP MANDELSTAM. TRISTIA (TRANLSATION BY ILYA SHAMBAT)
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