No. 8-9


Osip Mandelstam 

Translated from the Russian by Alexey Tkachenko and Andrey Gritsman  


Tied to the High World in Only a Child-like Manner

Tied to the high world in only a child-like manner,
Scared of oysters and following Guards with a frown,
I have not sworn with a grain of my soul to its banner,
Though I did suffer to make its strange likeness my own.

Scowling with foolish conceit, in a high priest’s fur hat,
I have not stood in the shade of a bank’s lofty portal,
And by the limy Neva to the rustling of banknotes 
No Gypsy woman amused me, like many a mortal.

Sensing the tortures ahead, I escaped from the mutiny
And to the nymphs of the Black Sea I anxiously hurried.
But from those tender belles femmes of the North I knew only
Sorrow and bitterness — wasted, embarrassed, and worried.

So why does this city still by a longstanding privilege
Govern my feelings and thoughts with no mildness and pity?
Fires and frosts only make it more daring and savage —
Self-loving, wretched and empty, but young-looking city!

Is it because I have seen, as a child, on a picture
Lady Godiva on horseback with burning red hair?
I still repeat to myself in a secretive whisper:
“Lady Godiva, farewell… I’ve forgotten thee, dear…”


Translated from the Russian by Alexey Tkachenko

You Are Not Dead Yet, Not Alone

You are not dead yet, not alone,
While with a beggar woman-friend
You are delighted by the greatness of plains,
By darkness, snow blizzard and cold.

In the luxurious poverty, in powerful destitution
You live all calm and all consoled.
Blessed are those days and nights,
And sinless is your mellifluous work.

The one who is scared by the bark and cut by wind
Is like a shadow, unhappy.
Poor is the one, who half alive himself,
From another shadow is still begging.


Translated from the Russian by Andrey Gritsman



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