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Poems by Osip Mandelstam

Translated by Ilya Bernstein



5" x 7"
December 2014




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About the Author

Osip Mandelstam (1891–1938) was a Russian poet and essayist who lived in Russia during and after its revolution and the rise of the Soviet Union. He was one of the foremost members of the Acmeist school of poets. He was arrested by Joseph Stalin's government during the repression of the 1930s and sent into internal exile with his wife Nadezhda. Given a reprieve of sorts, they moved to Voronezh in southwestern Russia. In 1938 Mandelstam was arrested again and sentenced to a camp in Siberia. He died that year at a transit camp.

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 QuarterlyJubilat, Ars Interpres, Calque, and Osip Mandelstam: New Translations (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2006), of which he was also the editor.

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