Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Great Regulars: This second section includes, crucially,

"We Live," the poem that proved [Osip] Mandelstam's undoing, what has been called "a 16-line death sentence" or "The Stalin Epigraph." In it, Mandelstam makes mention of "our Kremlin gremlin" with "his jackhammering jackboots" and how "a hairy cockroach crawls along his grin," a snook cocked at the Stalin 'stache. Mandelstam had no intention of speaking truth to power, only truth about power, but recited the poem to, among others, an informer.

from Frank Wilson: The Philadelphia Inquirer: Solemn magic in translated poetry


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