She has not yet been born,
she is both the music and the words,
and thereby the unbreakable bond
between all the living.

The ocean’s chest serenely respires,
but like mad brightened the day
and the foam’s lilac pale
in the dark lazurite vase.

May my mouth attain
primordial muteness,
as the crystal-clear note,
that from birth is pure!

In foam remain, Aphrodite!
Words, into music return!
And, hearts, from each other shy away,
merging with the source of life!

translated from the Russian by Motýlí Voko

Она еще не родилась,
Она и музыка и слово,
И потому всего живого
Ненарушаемая связь.

Спокойно дышат моря груди,
Но, как безумный, светел день,
И пены бледная сирень
В черно-лазоревом сосуде.

Да обретут мои уста
Первоначальную немоту,
Как кристаллическую ноту,
Что от рождения чиста!

Останься пеной, Афродита,
И, слово, в музыку вернись,
И, сердце, сердца устыдись,
С первоосновой жизни слито!

~1910, 1935 by Osip Mandelshtam~

About the poem: The name of the Greek goddess of passion, Aphrodite, literally means “arisen from foam.” She is the origin of both life and madness, and thereby the ceaseless inspiration of poets.

Jan Vihan is a contributing writer for In The Fray.

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