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)