Friday, August 1, 2014

Osip Mandelstam: "A Body Was Given to Me"

A body was given to me—what to do with it,
So unique and so much my own?

For the quiet joy of breathing and living,
Who is it, tell me, that I must thank?

I am the gardener, I am the flower as well,
In the dungeon of the world I am not alone.

On the glass of eternity has already settled
My breathing, my warmth.

A pattern prints itself on it,
Unrecognizable of late.

Let the lees of the moment trickle down—
The lovely pattern must not be wiped away.

"A Body Was Given to Me" by Osip Mandelstam, from 20th Century Russian Poetry: Silver And Steel, edited and translated from the original Russian by Albert C. Todd and Max Hayward. © Nan A. Talese, 1993.

Art credit: "So I write your name in my breath on the window...," photograph by © ¤čroorz, July 11, 2009 (originally color).


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