Maybe madness

Maybe madness too has meaning here.
Maybe conscience, knotted like a cyst,
Knowing and being known by sun and air —
Maybe life unties and we exist.

Bring to mind the mindless spider, its care
For the pillared invisible, little crystal temple,
All air and otherness:

As if a form could thank its maker,
As if every line of light back to one source were drawn,
As if, deep in wilderness
A raftered hall rose around the risen guests,
All pains purged from their faces . . .

As it is on earth, Lord, not in heaven.
On earth, and in a house whose walls are song.
Even the birds, even the littlest, fearless.
O Lord, to live so long . . .

Forgive me this, forgive what I am saying.
Whisper it, less than whisper, like someone praying.

— Osip Mandelstam
(March 15, 1937)

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