"On a sleigh, padded with straw"

by Osip Mandelstam

Osip Mandelstam

On a sleigh, padded with straw,
Barely covered by the fateful mat,
From the Vorobevy hills to the familiar chapel
We rode through enormous Moscow.
But in Uglich, the children play mumbletypeg,
And it smells of bread left in the oven.
They carry me along the streets without my hat;
In the oratory three candles burn.
Not three burning candles -- three meetings.
One consecrated by God Himself.
A fourth would never be, but Rome is far --
And He was never fond of Rome.
The sled dashed through black ruts,
People were returning from the promenade.
Wretched peasants with their angry wives
Cracked seeds by the gate.
The damp distance blackened with flocks of birds,
The bound hands swelled. They carry the Carevich,
The body grows terribly numb,
They set fire to the reddened straw.

Last updated January 14, 2019