Osip Mandelstam (1891–1938) was persecuted for his poetry and died in a transit camp near Vladivostok, Russia. His poem in this issue is drawn from a new translation, Voronezh Notebooks, to be published by New York Review Books in January. (January 2016)

IN THE REVIEW

Batyushkov

Like a flaneur with a magic cane, tender Batyushkov lives at my place— wanders down Zamostie lanes, sniffs a rose, sings Zafna’s praise. Not for a moment believing that we could be separated, I bowed to him: I shake his brightly gloved …

Two Poems by Osip Mandelstam

TO CASSANDRA I did not seek out your lips, Cassandra, your eyes, Cassandra, At any flowering moment, But in December—at the solemn vigil— Our memories torment! And it was then, in the year seventeen, in December, While loving, we lost all; One robbed …

Two Poems from ‘Tristia’

Translator’s Note: In Tristia (1922), his second collection of poems, Osip Mandelstam responded to the wars and upheaval of the years between 1917 and 1922 in Russia by celebrating the order and culture of the classical world. He spent part of these years as a refugee in the Crimea, which …

Poem

Across that dreadful height careens a falling star, But do stars blaze like that, expiring? Transparent star, stray and vagrant fire, Petropolis your brother’s dying. Upon that dreadful height our-earth dreams are in flames, The green star glimmers and goes flying. O star, …

Poem

Accept for joy from these, my outstretched hands, A little sunlight and a little honey, Persephone’s bees commanded us to do this. An unmoored boat can never be unloosed, Nor sound of shadow shod in fur be heard, Nor terror of life’s forest overcome.

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 …

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; …