The Decembrist

by Osip Mandelstam

Osip Mandelstam

"To this the pagan senate bears witness:
He lit his pipe and wrapped his cloak around
While some play chess nearby.
He traded his ambitious dream
For a godforsaken Siberian plot
And an elegant pipe at his venomous lips,
Which uttered truth in a mournful world.
When the German oaks first rustled,
Europe wept in her snare.
Black horses in quadrigae reared
on each triumphant turn.
Once, the blue punch glowed in our glasses.
With the broad noises of the samovar,
A friend from across the Rhine spoke
In muted tones -- a freedom-loving guitar.
The lively voices are still excited
Over the sweet liberty of citizenship;
But the victims don't want blind skies,
Toil and consistency are truer.
Everything's confused and there is no one to say,
As things grow colder,
Everything's confused, it is sweet to repeat:
Russia, Lethe, Lorelei...

Last updated January 14, 2019