Mandelstam often visited me, and we rode in a cab on the incredible bumps of the revolutionary winter among the famous fires that burned almost until May, listening to a rifle rumbling from an unknown place. So we went to the Academy of Arts, where were evenings in favor of the wounded and where we both performed several times.
You’re always enigmatic and new,
And I am ready to serve your desire,
But the love that I’m getting from you
Is a trial by iron and fire. See more
You don’t allow me to smile or sing,
You’ve forbid me to pray long ago.
And I’m glad to lose everything
Just so long as you don’t let me go!
Thus I live, without singing at all.
Neither sky nor earth is for me.
From both, hell and heaven, you stole
My spirit, which used to be free.
Now no-one will be listening to songs.
The days long prophesied have come to pass.
The world has no more miracles. Don't break
My heart, song, but be still: you are the last. See more
Not long ago you took your morning flight
With all a swallow's free accomplishment.
Now that you are a hungry beggar-woman,
Don't go knocking at the stranger's gate.
When we waited, in suicidal
Thoughts, for our German guests,
When the cold, Byzantine idol
Filled the Church with greed and pest See more
When the capital of Peter
Stood forlorn, bereft of will,
Like a drunken slut, she teetered,
There for all to have their fill,
I heard a voice. A soothing call,
It said: "Come here, live with me.
Abandon Russia. Leave it all
Forever! Let that madness be."
"I'll wash your bloody hands and purge
Your chest from all the dreadful shame;
I'll bury your demeaning scourge
Beneath a new and brighter name."
I calmly covered with my hands
My ears so I'd not befoul
With shameful, unbecoming plans
My weeping, pained, mourning soul.
That voice, with silence disputing,
Has triumphed a little bit more.
Like sorrow or song in me brooding
Is the winter before the war. See more
It was whiter than Smolny Cathedral,
More mysterious than Summer Garden.
Now, we look back at it, so ethereal,
With ultimate longing, downtrodden.
Whether I end up in Paris or in Bezhentsk, this winter is shaping up to be equally unpleasant. The only place where I was able to breathe easy was Petersburg. But, since they started the monthly tradition of covering the pavements in the blood of citizens, it’s lost some of it’s charm in my eyes.
Dear Anichka, you must no doubt be angry that I’ve not written you for so long, but I was purposely waiting for my fate to be decided. Now it has been. See more
I shall remain in Paris, at the disposal of the local emissary of the Provisional Government. I’ll most likely be employed in investigations of a variety of soldierly affairs and misunderstandings.
In a month, I’ll probably discover how secure my position is here. Then we’ll be able to give some thought to your coming here as well – if that’s something you’d be keen on, of course. For the moment, though, I still don’t know what sort of salary I shall command. At any rate, my situation is an exceptional one – with any luck, it’ll open up new horizons for me.
As ever, I’m constantly with Goncharova and Larionov, I’m very fond of them both. Now to the matter at hand: they want to travel to Russia, they’ve already sent off their forms, but it’s all very slow. If you’ve someone you could call on at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, see to it that he finds their papers and wires them here to the Consulate so they can be issued passports as soon as possible. Their applications are perfectly in order, they just need to be hurried through.
I’m in fine fettle and contented with my fate. In a couple of days or so I shall have permanent lodgings; I’ll let you know my address. I’ve not had time to write much – been running around and taking care of various business. I’ll send you all sorts of sundries from Galeries Lafayette via Larionov when he goes to Russia.
My dear Kolya,
Mother has finally received your letter from Paris. I am happy that you are staying in France. I think I don’t have to describe how badly I want to come to you. I beg you - try to arrange it, show me that yiu are my friend. See more
I am in good health, very bored in the countryside, I dread winter. My book is finally out, but I haven’t gotten it yet. Neither have I gotten any letters from you, what a shame!
I don’t know anything about our friends: the post barely works. I have been writing a lot, and I don’t like anything I’ve written.
It’s so strange to reminisce: in winter 1907 you asked me to come to Paris in every letter, and now I don’t even know if you want to see me at all. Please know: I do remember you, I love you and I’m always sad without you. I watch wistfully everything that is happening in Russia. God is punishing our country.
Don’t forget me, my dear. Write to me.
Our son is very sweet and well-behaved. He resembles you very closely.
I am pulling flax and writing bad poetry.
The village is pure heaven. The peasants swear that our house stands on their bones. They’ve mowed down our meadow, but when management arrived from town to investigate they tearfully begged, “Mother mistress, forgive us, this is the last time!” Some socialists! Total darkness rules people’s minds.
I’m living very well, every day I meet with someone interesting, laugh, write poetry and make new interesting literary connections.
Today I will be spending the evening at the house of one Yeats, an English Vyacheslav. I have also been promised a meeting with Chesterton, who, it turns out, is just over 40 but has written around 20 books. He is either greatly loved or utterly despised, but acknowledged by all.
It’s going to be the same as the Great French Revolution, perhaps even worse.
I don’t think much about the revolution. There is only one thought, one wish: to meet Anna Andreevna. I crossed the Neva on foot to avoid the barricades erected around the bridges. I remember a prison escapee, a boy aged about eighteen and seized by panic, who asked me for directions to the Varshavskiy train station. Staggering, I made my way to the house of Szreznevskiy, rung the bell and Anna Andreevna opened the door. “You? On a day like this? Officers are kidnapped on the streets”. – “I removed my epaulettes”. See more
She was seemingly touched by my visit. We went to her room. She lied down on the couch. For a while we discussed the significance on the ongoing revolution. She was anxious and said that great changes in our lives should be expected. “It’s going to be the same as the Great French Revolution, perhaps even worse.” – “Let’s stop talking about that”. We sat in silence. She lowered her head. “We are not going to meet again. You will leave”. – “I shall visit you. Look: your ring”. I unbuttoned my messjacket and revealed her black ring hanging on a chain around my neck. Anna Andreevna touched the ring. “That’s good, it’s going to save you”. I pressed her hand against my chest. “Always wear it”. – “Yes, always. This ring is sacred”, - I whispered. Her eyes blurred with something infinitely feminine, she extended her hands towards me. I was engulfed by a flame of incorporeal joy, kissed those hands and stood up. Anna Andreevna smiled affectionately. “That’s better”, - she said.