Saturday, November 16, 2013

Somewhere in Minnesota in mid-October

And tonight I am somewhere in Idaho planning a post which gets in before 12:00 California time, which seems to be the time which Google is using for these posts. Fudging, if not an actual cheat, but I am so close to the end of this year of posting. So close. . . . There are excuses, but they are boring. . .


No way of knowing 
when this song began.
Does the thief rustle to its tune? . . . .
Does the prince of mosquitoes hum it?

O, if I could speak once more
about nothing at all,
blaze up like a struck match,
nudge night awake with my shoulder,

heave up the smothering haystack,
the muffling hat of air,
shake out the stitches
of the sack of caraway seeds.

Then the pink hot knot of blood,
the hushing of these dry grasses
would be here in their trance after
a century, a hayloft, a dream.

                            ---Osip Mandelstam, 1922

From The Selected Poems of Osip Mandelstam, translated by Clarence Brown and W.S. Merwin, NYRB Classics, page 42.

I think this poem has many beauties. I am so far removed from Mandelstam by time and language that it seems I might never truly understand why he is regarded as such a great poet. But any one of these lines could serve to begin a new poem. Sleep well.

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