Osip Emilevich Mandelstam

(1891 - 1938 / Warsaw)

A Young Levite Among Priests - Poem by Osip Emilevich Mandelstam

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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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, April 7, 2010

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