Osip Mandelstam

Insomnia. Homer. Taut canvas.

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Insomnia. Homer. Taut canvas.
Half the catalogue of ships is mine:
that flight of cranes, long stretched-out line,
that once rose, out of Hellas.

To an alien land, like a phalanx of cranes –
Foam of the gods on the heads of kings –
Where do you sail? What would the things
of Troy, be to you, Achaeans, without Helen?

The sea, or Homer – all moves by love’s glow.
Which should I hear? Now Homer is silent,
and the Black Sea thundering its oratory, turbulent,
and, surging, roars against my pillow.

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Osip Mandelstam