Three Poems by Osip Mandelshtam




















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The Noise of  Time:
The Prose of Osip Mandelstam

Clarence Brown



The careful muffled sound
Of a fruit breaking loose from a tree
In the middle of the continual singing
Of deep forest silence...

(1) 1908

Suddenly, from the dimly lit hall
You slipped out in a light shawl;
The servants slept on,
We disturbed no one...

(3) 1908

The sea-shell

It may be, night, you do not need me;
Out of the world's abyss,
Like a shell without pearls,
I am cast on your shores.

Indifferent, you stir the waves
And immitigably sing;
But you shall love and cherish
This equivocal, unnecessary shell.

You shall lie down on the sand close by,
Apparelled in your raiment,
And bind to the shell
The colossal bell of the billows.

And our whispering spray shall fill,
With wind and rain and mist,
The walls of the brittle shell

A heart where nobody dwells...

(26) 1911


OSIP MANDELSHTAM is one the great Russian poets of our century.  He was born in 1891 of Jewish parents and was brought up in St Petersburg, now Leningrad.  His persecution by the Soviet authorities for his evident lack of ideological conformism began in earnest in the 1930s, and in 1934 he was arrested in 1938.  He died in Eastern Siberia, on the way to a labor camp.

Click here to read Jacqueline Marcus' new article on Anna Akhmatova and the Russian Intelligentsia.