“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).


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

April 2009
 Osip  Mandelstam


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).

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Winter


Poetic Terms Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Your results will be limited to content that appeared in Poetry magazine.

Search Every Issue of Poetry

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.