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.

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