Osip Mandelshtam

Poems by Osip Mandelshtam

Mandelstam’s father was a merchant, and his mother was born into the intelligentsia. He spent his youth in St. Petersburg, where he studied in a school of commerce and wrote his first verse. In 1907 he visited Paris and became enamored of the French Symbolists. In 1911 he studied at the University of Heidelberg and then the University of St. Petersburg, though he never graduated.

Mandelstam is one of the truly outstanding Russian poets of his or any time, highly esteemed by such important writers as Nikolai Gumilyov, Anna Akhmatova, and Boris Pasternak. Georgy Ivanov wrote of the initial impact of Mandelstam’s poetry: “His poems were astonishing. Above all, they astonish.” Ilya Erenburg’s regard for Mandelstam bordered on the religious.

Mandelstam’s poetry has an extraordinary sense of balance. The free association of ideas appears at times chaotic, but what remains above all is a feeling of harmony. Mandelstam does not paint on an epic canvas — he is a lyric poet to the marrow — but his most successful works form an important part of the objective reality of Russian history.

In his youth Mandelstam was associated with Acmeism, but this association was perhaps more stated than real. He had his own path to follow. In his work, extreme inner refinement is linked with simple colloquialism. European elements that he had assimilated in a natural, untheoretical way fuse in his poetry with the Russian classical tradition. The verbal fabric of Mandelstam’s poetry is intricate, like a mosaic, and at the same time the flow of images never detracts from the authenticity of feeling. At times his writing seems as fragile as the colors on the wings of butterflies, but there is an adamantine, Hellenic hardness about it. Besides poetry Mandelstam also wrote remarkable articles on art.

In the 1930s Mandelstam’s grotesque poem about Stalin, “We live not feeling...”, led to his arrest; he died in prison. His life and times are extraordinarily documented in the two brilliant volumes of memoirs by his wife, Nadezhda.

1908

1909

1910

1911

1912

1913

1914

1915

1916

1917

1918

1920

1921

1922

1923

1924

1925

1930

1931

1932

1933

1934

1935

1936

1937

in german

Ossip Mandelstam, gedichte (deutsch)

1915

1921

1937

in french

Ossip Mandelstam, des poèmes (français)

1918

1924

1933

in spanish

Ósip Mandelshtam, poemas (español)

1933

in italian

Osip Mandel`štam, poesie (italiano)

1911

1913

1914

1920

1921

1931

in portuguese

Óssip Mandelstam, poemas (português)

1914

1915

1922

1933

in hungarian

Oszip Mandelstam, versek (magyar)

1908

2019

in dutch

Osip Mandelstam, gedichten (nederlands)

1909

1910

1933

1937

in finnish

Osip Mandelstam, runoja (suomi)

1920

1921

1930

in romanian

Osip Mandelştam, poezii (română)

1917