Venetian Life

by Osip Mandelstam

Osip Mandelstam

The meaning of somber and barren
Venetian life is clear to me:
Now she looks into a decrepit blue glass
With a cool smile.
Refined air. Blue veins of skin.
White snow. Green brocade.
They are all placed on cypress stretchers,
Taken warm and drowsy from a cape.
And the candles burn, burn in baskets,
As if a pigeon had flown into the shrine.
At the theater and the solemn council,
A man is dying.
Because there is no salvation from love and fear,
Saturn's ring is heavier than platinum,
The block draped with black velvet,
And a beautiful face.
Your headdress is heavy, Venezia,
In the cypress mirror frame.
Your air is faceted. In the bedroom,
The blue mountains of decrepit glass dissolve.
Only in her hands are the rose and the hourglass --
Green Adriatic, forgive me.
Why are you silent, Venetienne,
How can I escape this solemn death.
Black Hesper glimmers in the mirror.
Everything passes, the truth is dark.
A man is born, a pearl dies.
And Susannah has to wait for the elders.

Last updated January 14, 2019