A sound, alert and dull,
of a fruit, ripping itself from the tree,
amid the speech-like tuning
of the deep silence of the woods …

translated from the Russian by Motýlí Voko

Звук осторожный и глухой
Плода, сорвавшегося с древа,
Среди немольчного напева
Глубокой тишины лесной …


About the poem: In a famous essay, the Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva makes a distinction between poets with history and poets without history. In poets with history, one can detect development over time—the voice matures, the idea grows. Poets without history, on the other hand, are complete from the first word they utter. To read Osip Mandelshtam’s earliest published poem, written when he was only seventeen, is to witness the birth of a timeless mind.

Jan Vihan is a contributing writer for In The Fray.

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