Like a nation’s bulk that has started
to make the earth sweat,
the dust-encrusted armada
of the herd, with its many strata,
sails straight into my head:
its heifers’ tender sides,
its tearaway bullocks, the ships
of the buffalo looming into sight,
and the bulls behind them,
stamping up like bishops.
12 June 1931
Osip Mandelstam was born in 1891 and grew up in St. Petersburg. He traveled in the Caucasus, was exiled to the city of Voronezh, and was deported to a labor camp in the Soviet Far East, where he died in 1938. He published two books of poetry, Stone and Tristia, in his lifetime, while other work has appeared posthumously as The Moscow and Voronezh Notebooks: Poems 1930-1937.
Alistair Noon’s full-length collection of translations of Osip Mandelstam is forthcoming from Leafe Press (UK) in 2011. He has also published translations of Pushkin’s The Bronze Horseman and of the German poets Monika Rinck and August Stramm, as well as several chapbooks of his own poetry. He lives in Berlin.
Dancing Embers by Sándor Kánýadi, translated from the Hungarian by Paul Sohar.