About the Book
A selection of poems by Osip Mandelstam translated into English and with a postscript by Ilya Bernstein. Most of the poems are from the 1930s, mostly from the "Voronezh Notebooks" (1935–1937). The collection includes several longer poems: The Slate Ode, The Octaves Cycle, The Verses on the Unknown Soldier, and The Ode to Stalin.
The translations were guided by the belief that the most important thing about a poem is neither its meaning nor its sound, but whatever it is in it that makes its readers memorize it. Accordingly, an attempt has been made here to capture that particular aspect of the originals, with the hope of making English-language versions of Mandelstam’s poems that at the very least point to that which invites memorization in his work, and which in the best cases may be memory-worthy in their own right.
Ilya Bernstein is a poet and translator. His translations of Mandelstam have appeared in Persephone, Circumference, Raritan Quarterly, Jubilat, Ars Interpres, Calque, and Osip Mandelstam: New Translations (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2006), of which he was also the editor.