Hard Night

Hard night. Homer. Homeless sails.
I’ve listened to the list of ships in my own voice.
I’ve seen, as my own voice fails,
Those strange cranes arrowing sorrowing over Hellas.

Ever alien, ever more interior, these shores,
And the sun-flecked, god-picked wings glinting spray —
Anxiety’s army, ghost souls of Achaea,
Without your one longing, what is dying for?

The singer and the sea, all things are moved by love.
But what is that to me? Homer is dead.
And a wall of silence, eerily eloquent,
Breaks like a black wave above my bed.

— Osip Mandelstam
(1915)

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