[Heaviness, tenderness—sisters—your marks are the same.]
Heaviness, tenderness—sisters—your marks are the same.
The wasps and the honey bees suck at the heavy rose.
Man dies, heat drains from the once warm sand,
and on a black bier they carry off yesterday's sun.
O, you tender nets and you heavy honeycombs,
easier to lift a stone than to speak your name!
Only one care is left me in the world:
a care that is golden, to shed the burden of time.
I drink the mutinous air like some dark water.
Time is turned up by the plow, and the rose was earth.
Slowly they eddy, the heavy, the tender roses,
roses of heaviness, tenderness, twofold wreath.
“[Heaviness, tenderness. . .]” from BLACK EARTH: by Osip Mandelstam.
Published by New Directions July 6th 2021.
English Translation Copyright © 2021 by Peter France.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
"It seems almost impossible to pay adequate homage to the poetic genius and personal courage of Osip Mandelstam, manifested during a time in the Soviet Union of tyrannical repression and terror. These spirited and meticulous versions by the masterful translator Peter France, bring us considerably closer to achieving that goal. They attest to the extraordinary range and depth of Mandelstam's complex artistic sensibility and intellect. Let us, simply enough, gratefully welcome them."