Osip Emilevich Mandelstam

(1891 - 1938 / Warsaw)

Insomnia. Homer. Taut Canvas. - Poem by Osip Emilevich Mandelstam

Insomnia. Homer. Taut canvas.
Half the catalogue of ships is mine:
that flight of cranes, long stretched-out line,
that once rose, out of Hellas.

To an alien land, like a phalanx of cranes –
Foam of the gods on the heads of kings –
Where do you sail? What would the things
of Troy, be to you, Achaeans, without Helen?

The sea, or Homer – all moves by love’s glow.
Which should I hear? Now Homer is silent,
and the Black Sea thundering its oratory, turbulent,
and, surging, roars against my pillow.


Comments about Insomnia. Homer. Taut Canvas. by Osip Emilevich Mandelstam

  • Fabrizio Frosini (6/14/2015 9:04:00 AM)

    Note: The catalogue of ships appears in Homer’s Iliad Book II (equivalent to counting sheep for the insomniac!) Hellas is Greece, and the Achaeans are the Greeks journeying to the Trojan War. Homer compares the clans to the flocks of geese, cranes, or long-necked swans that gather by the River Cayster in Asia Minor. Troy is near the entrance to the Hellespont, the gateway to the Black Sea. The abduction of Helen was the cause of the War: Paris’s love for her the root of the conflict. (Report)Reply

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  • Brian Jani (5/22/2014 6:17:00 PM)

    Osip you sure know your words well (Report)Reply

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, January 1, 2004



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