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  #21  
Old 07-20-2017, 05:53 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Thank you for posting that, John. Yes, Mandelstam is so good. I had heard as much but only lately have started reading him.

Good luck on your travels.
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  #22  
Old 07-20-2017, 09:36 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is online now
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I love this line: the huge laughing cockroaches on his top lip.

For me, Mandelstam is easier of access than Akhmatova. This is the poem that got him his first arrest.
Off to Astana on Sunday, then Helsinki, then Oxford, Paris, Strasbourg.

Cheers,
John
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  #23  
Old 07-24-2017, 05:11 PM
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Michael Ferris Michael Ferris is offline
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John and Aaron, that's a terrifying poem. I've been meaning to read Mandelstam, but that kind of scares me. Is he all like that?
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  #24  
Old 07-24-2017, 05:43 PM
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Martin Rocek Martin Rocek is offline
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Michael,
not really--he wrote this secretly, but the authorities found out and arrested him. It didn't lead immediately to his death--that came 5 years later. See Wikepedia article, which includes this amazing quote:
Quote:
Only in Russia is poetry respected, it gets people killed. Is there anywhere else where poetry is so common a motive for murder?
Here is a selection of his poems--some are grim, some life-affirming: Mandelstam poems.
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  #25  
Old 07-25-2017, 05:45 AM
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Michael Ferris Michael Ferris is offline
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Martin, thank you so very much for those links, especially the second, which is wonderful reading. I particularly loved “After Midnight”, the last fragment, and “The Admiralty”, and particularly this verse:

Four elements rule over us benignly;
free man is able to create a fifth.
Doesn’t this ark, this chastely crafted ark
deny the sovereignty of space?


You’ve left me less afraid and more intrigued, which is an excellent thing. My next move is to buy a book...

M
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  #26  
Old 07-25-2017, 05:48 AM
Emitt Evan Baker Emitt Evan Baker is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Martin Rocek View Post
Michael,
not really--he wrote this secretly, but the authorities found out and arrested him. It didn't lead immediately to his death--that came 5 years later. See Wikepedia article, which includes this amazing quote:
Here is a selection of his poems--some are grim, some life-affirming: Mandelstam poems.



I think there was more confrontation by design in the history of this poem. Mandelstam, though smart enough to fear and not relish prison and death, never the less was driven by some sense of destiny regarding the piece. He willfully read it aloud at more than a few occassions as if he could not bear for the words to be unheard by Stalin any more than he could bear the possible consequences. His widow spoke of his temperment and imagination saying he was not the kind who was made stronger from prison but rather broken by it. This made he actions in writing the piece and reading it aloud in the atmosphere of constant eavesdropping and betrayal all the more courageous. He had to overcome his own terror and anxiety to meet what he saw as his destiny. The relation of this piece to his Ode to Stalin is fascinating BTW. So, Martin, I guess I am objecting to the idea of the epigram as secret in some senses of the word.

His later poetry (Moscow and Voronezh notebooks) is quite different from his earlier stuff, Michael. I would suggest starting with those works. Mandelstam, in my opinion, still looks for his translator(s) but I like the Bloodaxe versions of those notebooks or the Complete Works but the latter is often expensive and hard to get a hold of.

Tony Brinkley at UMaine has some good translations online as well. There is Christian Wiman's newer versions as well but I didn't like them as much as I had hoped I would. The Bloodaxe versions remain my favorites as far as larger collections go. Definitely one of those poets to read alonngside some his biography and some commentary, again IMO. His widow's Hope Against Hope is a memoir of their lives and is an amazing work. Also Clare Cavanagh's Osip Mandelstam and the Modernist Creation of Tradition is a great read.

I love the White Review and I am gonna go check out the link you gave, Martin. Thanks.
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  #27  
Old 07-25-2017, 05:57 AM
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Michael Ferris Michael Ferris is offline
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We cross-posted, Emitt.

Thank you so much for the guidance, I really appreciate it, and it's one of the things I prize most about the Sphere. I assume that's the same Clare Cavanagh who translated Szymborska -- I like it already.
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