Osip Mandelstam

I have studied the Science of departures,
in nights sorrows, when a womans hair falls down.
The oxen chew, theres the waiting, pure,
in the last hours of vigil in the town,
and I reverence nights ritual cock-crowing,
when reddened eyes lift sorrows load and choose
to stare at distance, and a womans crying
is mingled with the singing of the Muse.

Who knows, when the word departure is spoken
what kind of separation is at hand,
or of what that cock-crow is a token,
when a fire on the Acropolis lights the ground,
and why at the dawning of a new life,
when the ox chews lazily in its stall,
the cock, the herald of the new life,
flaps his wings on the city wall?

I like the monotony of spinning,
the shuttle moves to and fro,
the spindle hums. Look, barefoot Delias running
to meet you, like swansdown on the road!
How threadbare the language of joys game,
how meagre the foundation of our life!
Everything was, and is repeated again:
its the flash of recognition brings delight.

So be it: on a dish of clean earthenware,
like a flattened squirrels pelt, a shape,
forms a small, transparent figure, where
a girls face bends to gaze at the waxs fate.
Not for us to prophesy, Erebus, Brother of Night:
Wax is for women: Bronze is for men.
Our fate is only given in fight,
to die by divination is given to them. 

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