The Shadow Shod in Fur


From the Archive

Photo of Osip Mandelstam made by the NKVD after his arrest in 1938.


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In our Summer–Fall 1961 issue, we published a portfolio of poems by Osip Mandelstam, born on January 15, 1891, a Russian writer who was arrested under Stalin and exiled in the 1930s. Sentenced to a labor camp in Siberia, he died en route at a transit camp, aged forty-seven. In one poem, he writes, 

Take for joy from my outstretched palms
A little honey and a little sun
As we were implored by the bees of Proserpine.

No one can loose a boat that is unmoored.
No one can hear the shadow shod in fur.
One cannot track down fear in the dense forest of life.

We are left only with kisses,
Prickling like tiny fuzzy bees
Which die, having left the hive.

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