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Poems

April 2011

Osip Mandlestam: new versions

by Christian Wiman

Casino

Pointless any happiness that happens by plan:
To live in nature is to suffer luck.
Thus blessed, thus cursed, I am myself again,
Empty-tipsy, drinking to the lees my lack.

Wind-tousled cloud, cloud-tousled chance,
Deep in the unseen an anchor drops, and clings.
O my lilting, my light-sheer, my linen existence:
As of another nothing floating over things.

I like the cakelike casino on the dunes,
And how the strict fingers of skeletal light
Come alive on the baize, and the view, vast as mist.
I like the tone of green that oceans in,

And the tight rosebuds of wine that bloom in the mind,
And the towering, scouring seagull, in whose eyes nothing
     is lost.

(1912)

 

Hard night

Hard ni ...

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Christian Wiman's most recent book is Every Riven Thing (Farrar, Straus & Giroux).


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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 29 April 2011, on page 32

Copyright © 2014 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.com

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