My beast, my age

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The Age

Osip Mandelstam

My age, my beast, is there anyone
Who can peer into your eyes
And with his own blood fuse
Two centuries’ worth of vertebrae?
Blood, the builder, gushes
From the throat of earthly things,
And the parasite just trembles
On the threshold of new days.

While the creature still has life,
The spine must be delivered,
While with the unseen backbone
A wave distracts itself.
Again they’ve brought the peak of life
Like a sacrificial lamb,
Like a child’s supple cartilage—
The age of infant earth.

To free the age from its confinement,
To instigate a brand new world,
The discordant, tangled days
Must be linked, as with a flute.
It’s the age that rocks the swells
With humanity’s despair,
And in the undergrowth a serpent breathes
The golden measure of the age.

Still the shoots will swell
And the green buds sprout
But your spinal cord is crushed,
My fantastic, wretched age!
And in lunatic beatitude
You look back, cruel and weak,
Like a beast that once was agile,
At the tracks left by your feet.

The creating blood gushes
From the throat of earthly things,
The lukewarm cartilage of oceans
Splashes like a seething fish ashore.
And from the bird net spread on high
From the humid azure stones,
Streams a flood of helpless apathy
On your fatal wound.

The challenge, the pain, the cruelty, the lie of translation…

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