At moment’s blooming I was not then questing,
Cassandra, for your lips, Cassandra, for your eyes,
But we’re December’s solemn wait digesting –
We’re hounded by our memories’ lies.
In 1917 in mid-December
We find we’ve lost love and it all;
The people’s will will some of us dismember,
And others hold themselves to wall.
And time will come in city’s madness
Amidst some Scythian orgy on the river bank
And in the dancing din and out of badness
From lovely head they’ll grab scarf with a yank.
If necessary madness is our mortal meaning
And high constructions make an ocean full of trees,
I fell for you, disarming victory’s overweening
And plague is borne by winter breeze.
And on the square I see a fellow,
Amidst the armoured cars he scares
The wolves, as chucking burning blocks he issues bellow
That freedom, law and right are theirs.
O sick and silent, dear Cassandra,
To understand this can’t be done.
Oh why shone sun of Alexander
A hundred years ago on everyone?
Your fabulous enunciation,
Like whistling of a bird of prey,
Creates a true representation
Of silken eyelids, I dare say. See more
"What" -- and the head has fallen
"Why" -- I am asking you
And far away the leaves are calling:
We live upon this planet too.
So let them say that love is flighty -
Flightier hundred times is death.
The soul is striving still and mighty,
Our lips fly toward it with each breath.
And in your whisper, so much silk,
And so much air, and so much light,
That as if blinded we both drink
The sunless brew of windy night.
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.
When on the squares and in solitary silence
We slowly go out of our minds,
Brutal winter will offer us
Cold and clear Rhine wine. See more
The frost offers us in a silver pail
The white wine of Valhalla,
And for us it recalls
A clear image of a northern man.
But northern skalds are rude,
Don't know the joy of the game,
And to northern troops are dear
Amber, feasts and flames.
They only dream of the southern air,
The magic of a foreign sky.
-- Nevertheless the stubborn friend
Still refuses to try.
The stream of golden honey poured, so viscous,
slow from the bottle, our hostess had time to murmur:
‘Here, in sad Tauris, where fate has brought us,
we shan’t be too bored’ – glancing over her shoulder. See more
Everywhere the Bacchic rite, as if all were merely
dogs and watchmen – go, and you’ll see nothing –
the days like heavy barrels rolling by quietly:
far off, hut-bound voices – no response or meaning.
After tea we entered the huge brown garden,
dark blinds lowered like eyelids over windows,
past white columns to inspect the grapes then
glassy air sluicing the sleepy mountain slopes.
I said: ‘The vines live on here in ancient wars,
and curly-haired horsemen fight in leafy rows,
the science of Hellas in stony Tauris – these are
the noble golden acres, the rusty furrows.’
Well, like a spinning wheel, silence in the white room,
smelling of vinegar, paint, new wine in the cellar.
Remember the wife loved by all, in the Greek home,
how long she spent weaving? – Not Helen – that other.
Golden Fleece, where are you Golden Fleece?
The journey: a roar of ocean’s heavy waves.
Leaving his ship, its canvas worn by the seas,
Odysseus returned, filled with time and space.
Overwhelming swarms of human locusts that came from nowhere covered the banks of Fontanka, pasted itself all over fish markets, barges carrying wood, over quays, marble gangways and even boats of Ladoga potters.