Osip Mandelstam. Translated by Ian Probstein

Also in Translations:

1. image-Osip(1)
Osip Mandelstam. Translated by Ian Probstein

 
Poems for N[atalia] Е. Shtempel
 
I
 
Unwillingly clinging to a bare land,

With an uneven sweet gait

She goes—a little bit ahead

Of a swift girlfriend and her young groom.

She is drawn by the constrained freedom

Of an uplifting imperfection.

Perhaps a clear prediction

Clings to her gait, longing to stay:

That this spring weather

Is for us a grave’s foremother,

And this will begin forever.
 
II
 
Some women are kin to damp earth,

Their each step is a resonant dirge,

They are summoned to accompany

The risen and be the first to greet the dead.

It is a crime to demand their caresses,

And it is impossible to leave them.

Today — an angel, tomorrow — a grave’s worm,

And the next day—just a shadow . . .

What was a posture will be gone . . .

Flowers are immortal, the sky is wholesome,

And everything to come — is just a promise.

 
May 4, 1937
 
 
The Original
 
 
Стихи к H[аталии] Е. Штемпель
 
I
 
К пустой земле невольно припадая,

Неравномерной сладкою походкой

Она идёт—чуть-чуть опережая

Подругу быструю и юношу-погодка.

Её влечёт стеснённая свобода

Одушевляющего недостатка,

И, может статься, ясная догадка

В её походке хочет задержаться —

О том, что эта вешняя погода

Для нас — праматерь гробового свода,

И это будет вечно начинаться.
 
II
 
Есть женщины, сырой земле родные,

И каждый шаг их — гулкое рыданье,

Сопровождать воскресших и впервые

Приветствовать умерших—их призванье.

И ласки требовать от них преступно,

И расставаться с ними непосильно.

Сегодня — ангел, завтра — червь могильный,

А послезавтра—только очертанье…

Что было—поступь — станет недоступно…

Цветы бессмертны. Небо целокупно.

И всё, что будет, — только обещанье.

 
4 мая 1937
 
_______________________________________________
 
From Centuries Encircle Me with Fire: Selected Poems of Osip Mandelstam. A Bilingual English–Russian Edition; translations by Ian Probstein. Academic Studies Press (2022)
 

About the Author:

Mandelshtam17 (2)
Osip Mandelstam
Russia/ The Soviet Union

Osip Mandelstam [Rus. Осип Мандельштам] (14 January 1891 – 27 December 1938) was one of the greatest Russian poets of the 20th century.  He was arrested in the 1930s and sent into internal exile with Nadezhda Mandelshtam, his wife. Given a reprieve of sorts, they moved to Voronezh in southwestern Russia. In 1938 Mandelstam was arrested again and sentenced to five years in a GULAG camp in the Soviet Far East. He died that year at a transit camp near Vladivostok.

About the Translator:

Ian . (1)
Ian Probstein
New York, USA

Ian Probstein is a poet, scholar, and translator of poetry. His most recent book in English is The River of Time: Time-Space, Language and History in Avant-Garde, Modernist, and Contemporary Poetry.  Boston: Academic Studies Press, 2017, Complete annotated edition of T. S. Eliot’s Poetry and Plays (St. Petersburg: Azbuka, 2019), Charles Bernstein. Sign Under Test: Selected Poems and Essays. (Moscow: Russian Gulliver-Center 2020).

Bookshelf
by Osip Mandelstam

This collection, compiled, translated, and edited by poet and scholar Ian Probstein, provides Anglophone audiences with a powerful selection of Mandelstam’s most beloved and haunting poems.

by Kristina Gorcheva-Newberry

Four teenagers grow inseparable in the last days of the Soviet Union—but not all of them will live to see the new world arrive in this powerful debut novel, loosely based on Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard.

 

by Mark Budman

Every character in these twenty-two interlinked stories is an immigrant from a place real or imaginary. (Magic realism/immigrant fiction.)

by Victor Enyutin

A book of poems in Russian by Victor Enyutin (San Francisco, 1983). Victor  Enyutin is a Russian writer, poet, and sociologist who emigrated to the US from the Soviet Union in 1975.

by Nina Kossman

A collection of poems in Russian. Published by Khudozhestvennaya literatura (Художественная литература). Moscow, 1990.

by Anna Krushelnitskaya

This collection of personal essays by a bi-national Russian/U.S. author offers glimpses into many things Soviet and post-Soviet: the sacred, the profane, the mundane, the little-discussed and the often-overlooked. What was a Soviet school dance like? Did communists go to church? Did communists listen to Donna Summer? If you want to find out, read on!

Videos
Three Questions. A Documentary by Vita Shtivelman
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Poetry Reading in Honor of Brodsky’s 81st Birthday
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