Monday, December 10, 2012

Osip Mandelstam - Petersburg



* * *                                 
I returned to my city familiar to tears,
To my vessels and tonsils of childhood years,

You returned here again, then devour and cram
The fish oil from Leningrad’s hurricane lamps.

Then at once recognize the December daytime
Where egg yolk is mixed in with road tar noxious slime.

Petersburg, no, not yet, I’m not ready to die
While you're keeping my telephone numbers alive.

Petersburg, I still have the addresses at hand
That I’ll use to recover the voice of the dead.

I inhabit backstairs and my temple is smacked
By a door bell that’s handing out there by threads.

And throughout the night I expect house guests
Sliding shackles of door chains with latent unrest.

1930

Translated by Dina Belyayeva

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