“Alone I stare into the frost’s white face”

By Osip Mandelstam 1891–1938 Osip Mandelstam

Translated By John High and Matvei Yankelevich Read the translator's notes

Alone I stare into the frost’s white face.   
It’s going nowhere, and I—from nowhere.   
Everything ironed flat, pleated without a wrinkle:   
Miraculous, the breathing plain.   

Meanwhile the sun squints at this starched poverty—
The squint itself consoled, at ease . . .   
The ten-fold forest almost the same . . .   
And snow crunches in the eyes, innocent, like clean bread.   


January 16, 1937


Source: Poetry (April 2009).

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This poem originally appeared in the April 2009 issue of Poetry magazine

April 2009
 Osip  Mandelstam

Biography

Osip Mandelstam (1891–1938) is perhaps the most famous Russian poet of the twentieth century. English translations of his work include The Noise of Time: Selected Prose (Northwestern University Press, 2002) and the poetry collection Modern Archaist (University of Nebraska Press, 2008).

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Winter

POET’S REGION Russia

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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