Not in our power to foretell
what response our words will meet.
Fellow feeling, heaven’s grace –
mysteries we can’t predict.
by Фёдор Иванович Тютчев (Fyodor Ivanovich Tyutchev)
translated by Robert Chandler
Fun Fact: Counted amongst the admirers of Tyutchev‘s works were Dostoevsky and Tolstoy along with Nekrasov and Fet then later Osip Mandelstam who, in a passage approved by Shalamov, believed that a Russian poet should not have copy of Tyutchev in his personal library – he should know all of Tyutchev off by heart.
I was washing at night out in the yard,
the heavens glowing with rough stars,
a star-beam like salt upon an axe,
the water butt cold and brim full.
A padlock makes the gate secure,
and conscience gives sternness to the earth –
hard to find a standard anywhere
purer than the truth of new-made cloth.
A star melts in the water butt like salt,
cold water in the butt is blacker still,
death is more pure, disaster saltier
and earth more truthful and more terrible.
by Осип Эмильевич Мандельштам (Osip Emilyevich Mandelshtam. His surname is commonly latinised as Mandelstam)
translated by Peter France
A poem written in respone to the news of Nikolay Gumilyov‘s execution.