PQR: Poems, Quotes, Readings

Tristia, #116

by Osip Mandelstam

Lightheartedly, take from the palms of my hands
A little sun, a little honey,
As Persephone's bees commanded us.

Not to be untied, the unmoored boat;
Not to be heard, fur-shod shadows;
Not to be silenced, life's thick terrors.

Now we have only kisses,
Bristly and crisp like bees,
Which die as they fly from the hive.

They rustle in transparent thickets of night,
Their homeland thick forest of Taigetos,
Their food -- honeysuckle, mint, and time.

Lightheartedly take then my uncouth present:
This simple necklace of dead, dried bees
Who once turned honey into sun.

Mandelstam, Osip. "Tristia, #116." Osip Mandelstam, poems chosen and translated by James Greene. Boulder: Shambhala, (c)1978, p. 34.

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