Osip Emilevich Mandelstam
A young Levite among priests
A young Levite among priests,
He remained long on morning watch.
Jewish night grew thick around him,
The ruined temple was solemnly being raised.
He said: the yellow of the skies is alarming.
Run, priests, for night is already over the Euphrates!
But the elders thought: this is not our fault;
Behold the black and yellow light, the joy, the Jews.
He was with us when, on the stream's shore,
We swaddled the sabbath in precious linen
With a heavy menorah lit the night of Jerusalem,
The heady fumes of non-existence.
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(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
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