Osip Emilevich Mandelstam

(1891 - 1938 / Warsaw)

A phantom scene barely glimmers


1

A phantom scene barely glimmers,
The soft choirs of shades,
Melpomene has lashed the windows of her room with satin.
Wagons stand in the black gypsy-camp.
The frost crackles outside.
Everything is dishevelled -- people and objects,
The burning snow crunches.

2

Piece by piece, the servants take down
Piles of bearskin coats.
In the rumple flits a butterfly,
A rose is muffled in the fur.
Gnats and boxes of colorful raimie,
The slight heat of the theater.
On the street the lamps flicker,
And the heavy steam belches.

3

The coachmen are weary from shouting,
And the night is pitch black.
No matter, my dear Eurydice,
That our winter is bitterly cold.
For me, my native tongue is sweeter
Than the song of Italian speech ,
For in it, the fount of foreign harps
Will mysteriously prattle.

4

The pitiful sheepskin smells of smoke,
From a snow drift the street is black.
From a glorious melodic den
Immortal Spring flies to us, so that
The aria eternally resounds:
'You will return to the green meadows,'
And the living swallow fell back
On the burning snow.

Submitted: Wednesday, April 07, 2010

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