The Silver Age of Russian Poetry

Main Page Contents / Back to Acmeists: Mandel'shtam / Silentium by Osip Mandel'shtam / Symbolists / Futurists

Osip Mandel'shtam

The Age

My age, my beast, who will be able
To look into the pupils of your eyes
And stick together the vertebrae of two centuries
with [their own] blood?
The blood that builds gushes
Out of [the throat] of earthly things;
The parasite only trembles
On the threshold of new days.

The creature, so long as it has enough life left,
Must carry the backbone to the end;
And a wave plays upon
The invisible spine.
Once again life's vertex
Has been sacrificed like a lamb,
As though it were a child's tender cartilage --
The age of the earth's infancy.

In order to wrest life from captivity
And start a new world,
The figures of knotty days
Must be linked together by [the song of a flute].
It's the age rocking the wave
With [humanity's] anguish;
And a viper in the grass breathes
The golden measure of the age.

And the buds will swell again,
And the green shoots will sprout.
But your spine has been smashed,
My beautiful, pitiful age.
And you look back, cruel and weak,
With an inane smile,
Like a beast that has once been supple,
At the tracks left by your own paws.


Acmeists: Mandel'shtam Top of this Page Futurists

To Silentium / Main Page Contents / To Symbolists

The Silver Age of Russian Poetry
created by Lindsay Malcolm

last modified: August 8th, 1999