Osip Mandelstam, also Osip Mandel'shtam, was born in Warsaw and grew up in St.Petersburg. His father was a successful leather-goods dealer and his mother a piano teacher. Mandelstam's parents were Jewish, but not very religious. At home Mandelstam was taught by tutors and governesses. He attended the prestigious Tenishev School (1900-07) and traveled then to Paris (1907-08) and Germany (1908-10), where he studied Old French literature at the University of Heidelberg (1909-10). In 1911-17 he studied philosophy at St. Petersburg University but did not graduate. Mandelstam was member of 'Poets Guild' from 1911 and hand close personal ties with Anna Akhmatova and Nikolai Gumilev. His first poems appeared in 1910 in the journal Apollon.
As a poet Mandelstam gained fame with the collection ' ...
What Shall I Do With This Body They Gave Me
What shall I do with this body they gave me,
so much my own, so intimate with me?
For being alive, for the joy of calm breath,
tell me, who should I bless?
I am the flower, and the gardener as well,
and am not solitary, in earth’s cell.
My living warmth, exhaled, you can see,
on the clear glass of eternity.
A pattern set down,
until now, unknown.
Breath evaporates without trace,
but form no one can deface.