Clarence Brown is the author of a prize-winning biography of Mandelstam and is Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature at Princeton.

IN THE REVIEW

Six Poems of Osip Mandelstamm

1 What shall I do with myself, now it’s January? The gaping city staggers and clings. I think it’s the locked doors that have made me drunk. I could howl out of every lock and paper clip. The stocking-lanes barking, knitted streets of junk …

A Commencement Oration

Perhaps there are moments of awakening, Extreme, fortuitous, personal, in which We more than awaken, sit on the edge of sleep, As on an elevation, and behold The academies like structures in a mist. —Wallace Stevens Today is Commencement Day. Last night, going …

3 Poems by Osip Mandelstam

dated January 16, 1937, Voronezh I am alone staring into the eye of the ice. He is going nowhere. I came from there. A miracle: the plain ironed to the end of time, pleated without a wrinkle, is breathing. The sun squints, a starched pauper; …

The Nature of the Miracle

The Russian poet Osip Mandelstam was arrested in May, 1934, for having composed a sixteen-line poem in which Stalin was portrayed as a tyrant and murderer, but he was not summarily shot. Instead, he was flung into prison for a while, then exiled to Cherdyn and finally to Voronezh. This …