by Osip Mandelstam
This was the last poem, Christian Wiman says, that the Russian poet wrote. Listen to Wiman's recitation of this powerful poem and how he finds more value in it than other poems about death. Download the MP3 and share it with your friends!
And I was alive in the blizzard of the blossoming pear,
Myself I stood in the storm of the bird–cherry tree.
It was all leaflife and starshower, unerring, self–shattering
And it was all aimed at me.
What is this dire delight flowering fleeing always earth?
What is being? What is truth?
Blossoms rupture and rapture the air,
All hover and hammer,
Time intensified and time intolerable, sweetness raveling rot.
It is now. It is not.
(May 4, 1937)
From the book "Stolen Air" by Osip Mandelstam, selected and translated by Christian Wiman. Copyright © 2012 by Christian Wiman. Reprinted courtesy of Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.