Osip Mandelstam b. 15 January 1891

Had our enemies captured me
And had people stopped speaking to me;
Had I been deprived of everything in the world—
The right to breathe, and to open doors,
And to assert that “being” means “shall be,”
And that the people, like the judge, judges;
Were I to be kept like a beast,
My food thrown on the floor,—
I wouldn’t be silent, I wouldn’t suppress the pain,
But I shall draw pictures I wish to draw,
And rocking the bell of the naked walls,
And having awakened the corner of the enemy darkness,
I shall harness my voice to ten bullocks,
And cleave the dark with my hand like a plough,
And in the depth of the watchful night,
The eyes of the common labourer earth shall flash
And, into the united legion of fraternal eyes,
I shall fall with the weight of the whole harvest,
With all the denseness of an oath tearing into distance,
And the flock of the flaming years will come, flying,
Like a ripe thunderstorm, will rustle past – Lenin,
And on the earth that will avoid decay,
Reason and life will be kept awake by Stalin

The Ode 1937 – the nightmares of anticipated imprisonment and the paranoid enthusiasm gripping the nation in 1937 in a double Stalinist embrace.

Conversation Among the Ruins …echoes of Today’s White House?

Through portico of my elegant house you stalk
With your wild furies, disturbing garlands of fruit
And the fabulous lutes and peacocks, rending the net
Of all decorum which holds the whirlwind back.
Now, rich order of walls is fallen; rooks croak
Above the appalling ruin; in bleak light
Of your stormy eye, magic takes flight
Like a daunted witch, quitting castle when real days break.

Fractured pillars frame prospects of rock;
While you stand heroic in coat and tie, I sit
Composed in Grecian tunic and psyche-knot,
Rooted to your black look, the play turned tragic:
Which such blight wrought on our bankrupt estate

What ceremony of words can patch the havoc?

1956 Sylvia Plath

And yet …

  Oh, how desperately I want to live;
 Immortalize the real,
 Personify the faceless,
 Give flesh to the non-existent!
 Life’s crushing dream may smother me
 I may suffocate as I dream, -
 And yet a light-hearted youth, perhaps
 Will say of me in time to come:
 Let us forgive his gloom – could it be
 That it was really his secret drive?
 “He’s but a child of goodness and light
 He’s but freedom’s triumph!”
 (Aleksandr Bolk 05.02.1914) 

A vision of fancy or imagination

Blake defends his vision before an offended Reverend John Trusler, in 1877, who’d defined the art of the young man as too imaginative. Blake’s reply was full of wisdom and firmness:

I really am sorry that you are fallen out with the spiritual world, especially if I should have to answer for it… If I am wrong, I am wrong in good company… What is grand is necessarily obscure to weak men. That which can be made explicit to the idiot is not worth my care.
Michael Parks
I feel that a man may be happy in this world. And I know that this world is a world of imagination and vision. I see every thing I paint in this world, but everybody does not see alike. To the eyes of a miser, a guinea is far more beautiful than the Sun, and a bag worn with the use of money has more beautiful proportions than a vine filled with grapes. The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing which stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity, and by these, I shall not regulate my proportions; and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself. As a man is, so he sees. […] You certainly mistake, when you say that the visions of fancy are not to be found in this world. To me, this world is all one continued vision of fancy or imagination… William Blake

The Open ..

Animals see the unobstructed
world with their whole eyes.
But our eyes, turned back upon
themselves, encircle and
seek to snare the world,
setting traps for freedom.
The faces of the beasts
show what truly IS to us:
we who up-end the infant and
force its sight to fix upon
things and shapes, not the
freedom that they occupy,
that OPENESS which lies so deep
within the faces of the animals,
free from death!
Could that surefooted beast,
approaching from a direction
different than our own, aquire
the mental knack to think as do we,
he would spin us round
and drag us with him.
But he is without end unto himself:
devoid of comprehension,
unselfscrutinized, pure
as his outgoing glance.
We see future; he sees
eternal completion.
Himself in all.
From Rilke's 8th Duino Elegy
Another tr.
Earth's creatures look wide-eyed
into the Open. Our eyes, alone, as though reversed,
are ringed like snares around free exit.
What lies outside, is clearly shown us
in the animal's face. 

The creature gazes into openness with all
its eyes. But our eyes are
as if they were reversed, and surround it,
everywhere, like barriers against its free passage.

Another world …

New Heaven and Earth (DHL)
 And so I cross into another world
 shyly and in homage linger for an invitation
 from this unknown that I would trespass on.

 I am very glad, and all alone in the world,
 all alone, and very glad, in a new world
 where I am disembarked at last.

 I could cry with joy, 
because I am in the new world, just ventured in.
 I could cry with joy, 
and quite freely, there is nobody to know.

 And whosoever the unknown people
 of this un- known world may be
 they will never understand my weeping for joy
 to be adventuring among them
 because it will still be a gesture of the old world I am making
 which they will not understand, 
because it is quite, quite foreign to them. 
Carlos Schwabe