"In Petersburg we'll meet again"

by Osip Mandelstam

Osip Mandelstam

In Petersburg we'll meet again,
As though we'd buried the sun there,
And for the first time utter
The blessed, senseless word.
In the black velvet of Soviet night,
In the velvet of worldwide emptiness,
The kind eyes of touched women still sing,
The immortal flowers still bloom.
The capitol arches like a wildcat,
A patrol is standing on the bridge,
A single angry motor speeds by in the dark,
And cries out like a cuckoo.
I do not need a pass for the evening,
I am not afraid of the sentries:
I will pray in the Soviet night
For the blessed and senseless word.
I hear the theater's light rustling
And a young girl's "Oh" --
In Kypris'arms, a huge bunch
Of immortal roses.
Out of boredom, we warm ourselves
By a bonfire. Perhaps centuries will pass,
And the kind hands of touched women
Will gather up the light ashes.
Somewhere the red rows of the gallery,
The sumptuous chiffon of the boxes;
The clockwork-puppet of the officer;
Not for black souls or vile hypocrites . . .
Right. Put out, please, our candles
In the black velvet of worldwide emptiness,
The sloped shoulders of blessed women still sing,
But you won't notice the night sun.

Last updated January 14, 2019