Russia: where poetry is respected & gets people killed


“It gets people killed”: Osip Mandelstam and the perils of writing poetry under Stalin: The cat-and-mouse game between the poet Osip Mandelstam and the Soviet dictator could only end in death. – Eimear McBride – New Statesman – May 9, 2017

“By the time of this first arrest, Mandelstam had already lived for several years with the knowledge that the long-term aim of the Soviet state machine was to take his life – the method and the timescale were all that remained to be revealed. ‘Only in Russia is poetry respected,’ he is quoted as ­saying. ‘It gets people killed. Is there ­anywhere else where poetry is so common a motive for murder?’”

“Alone I stare into the frost’s white face”
Osip Mandelstam, translated by John High
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.

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