by Osip Mandelshtam
translated by Alistair Noon



To M.L. Lozinskii

Whenever I’m near mysterious mountain tops,
there’s a fear I sense but can’t defeat.
Watching the skies, I’m content with the swallows,
and love the way a flight of bells will peal.

As if some man walking out of antiquity
who can hear the growth of snow, I’m crossing
a chasm on sagging bridges, it seems,
and the whole of time ticks on stone clocks.

No, I’m no traveller whose name lies on
some faded pages, where it stays and gleams.
Grief sings inside me. My feelings

and the bells have now become one.
Avalanches roll in the hills for real.
But music won’t save me from the drop.




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