Osip Emilevich Mandelstam

(1891 - 1938 / Warsaw)

Brothers, let us glorify freedom’s twilight


Brothers, let us glorify freedom’s twilight –
the great, darkening year.
Into the seething waters of the night
heavy forests of nets disappear.
O Sun, judge, people, your light
is rising over sombre years

Let us glorify the deadly weight
the people’s leader lifts with tears.
Let us glorify the dark burden of fate,
power’s unbearable yoke of fears.
How your ship is sinking, straight,
he who has a heart, Time, hears.

We have bound swallows
into battle legions - and we,
we cannot see the sun: nature’s boughs
are living, twittering, moving, totally:
through the nets –the thick twilight - now
we cannot see the sun, and Earth floats free.

Let’s try: a huge, clumsy, turn then
of the creaking helm, and, see -
Earth floats free. Take heart, O men.
Slicing like a plough through the sea,
Earth, to us, we know, even in Lethe’s icy fen,
has been worth a dozen heavens’ eternity.

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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