My animal, may age

My animal, my age, who alive can gaze
Into those eyes without becoming you?
Who alone can use, like a kind of sacrificial glue,
Word and blood to bind and mend these centuries?

Blood the builder brings forth the future
From the garroted throat of this very hour.
Meanwhile, some worm, some parasite of power,
Slime to the tip of his larval lips, licks them.

.

All creatures touched to life, clutched
By life, are the beings they must be and bear.
Mindsight, spinelight, and somewhere, nowhere,
The dark wave . . .

.

Blood the builder brings forth the future.
From the throat of nature
Blood the builder bleeds and sings
And like a fish on fire your life lands
On the hot sands of some far shore
While from a mortared sky
Blood the builder pours
And pours indifference over your final why.

.

My animal, my age, ravenous in your cage,
What flute might bend the bars, bind the gnarled
Knees of days, and bring forth a world
Of newness, world trued to music —
A lullaby for human grief,
Of human grief,
While the adder breathes in time in the grass.

.

Wave after wave of grave aboriginal green,
And then, buds plumped to the point of bursting,
And then, again, all the soft detonations of simple
spring . . .

But not for you, my beautiful, my pitiful,
My necrotic, psychotic age.
More cruel for the weakness that taunts you,
More crippled for the supple animal that haunts you,
You stagger on,
Staring back at the way you’ve taken:
Mad tracks in a land called Gone.

— Osip Mandelstam
(1923)

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