Osip Mandelstam learned the science of farewell

It is the first verse mentioned here in the literal version of Do not be sad, one of Osip Mandelstam’s most famous poems, belongs to the homonymous group, from 1922. Do not be sad It is the second leg of Mendel’s poem after Shatam came’ (Stone), a volume published in March 1913.

In this poem, Ovid and the exile are a wrapping of tapestry, which, in four eight-line stanzas, after the metric movement of iambic pentameter, gives an image of the feeling of farewell: with images of departure, on a bitter eve, from the threshold on this side of darkness, Of the slogans that indicate the passage of the new day. A day in which he reveals the way, solitude, remembrance and confession. Confession is guarding the fugitive in the presence of an image that is lost in the knowledge of the distance. Confession is to welcome what is absent, to welcome it in a verse, in the temporary and intimate sweetness of a verse, from its music.

In the first movement of the poem, to the images that rise from reading Do not be sad From Ovid, notably Epitaph I, 3 (“Cum subit illius tristissima noctis imago”), pictorial motifs that come from Tibullus’ reading, of one songsWhere the Latin poet recalls the time before his departure to the East. But for a poet like Mandelstam, every classical reference is a source of radiation in the theater of one’s innermost, a radiation that then condenses into crystal images, transforming itself into gleaming drops of sense of metaphors, and of thinking for sound numbers. The phonetic meaning of poetic words – Dante’s “mosaic link” – for Mandelstam is the same as poetry. For this reason, bringing his poem into another language is always a gamble (it could be said to a different extent than any poem hosted in another language). This is the first verse, in the Remo Faccani (Einaudian) translation, which elegantly welcomes Russian poetry, and its harmonious expansion, in a poetic sequence where the Italian hendecasyllable is the primary measure, and the continuous basso (hence any other phonetic expansion):

I know the science of separation I learned

Lilly complains of hair loss.

They ruminate oxen, and the wait lasts.

The last hour of the statues awakening

the cities. I bow to the rituals of the night

Rooster, when – on the shoulder the burden of torment

Flight – they looked away with wet eyes,

The crying of the women joined the song of melodies.

Learning to say goodbye is the coupling of the imaginative experience revealed by the classics of poetry–Ovid’s Night, the Sounds, and the Tears–with one’s own experience of separation, separation from home, from land, from time. Ovid’s farewell, which the Russian poet evokes in his own voice and in another time, is the transition to a state of exile, that is, that state in which all belonging is forgotten, so to speak, becomes abstract. , the past. The ship has sunk into oblivion, hardly contained by the shocks of nostalgia, the future is a black cloud, always on the run (Maria Zambrano would write very beautiful pages about this situation of exile: a mysterious suspension of the ego, the experience of uprooting, the defense of the only homeland that resists abandonment any language).

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The farewell science which the Russian poet claims to have learned has become the artery and vein of his feeling: poetry, to the end, will be the response—musical, reckless and sweet both—to this science. Knowledge is the knowledge of the body, a wound that never heals. Reading Dante, the poet of exile, tireless reading, in love, both physical and imaginative, will accompany the poet on his way, until the most extreme days of exile. The lament of desertion – the “loose-haired” women, the weeping at dawn – go hand in hand with the opening of the serene scenes showing a rural world and the presence of animals: here and elsewhere they come together. For the pain of waiting and for the images that announce the suffering of the journey, the audience responds, the presence of the rooster that reappears with “noise” in the second stanza:

Who, at the word “farewell”, knows which one

Separation will come to us soon,

What does a raging rooster portend?

While the flames burn in the Acropolis,

And because at the dawn of a new life,

As the bull ruminates lazily in the passage,

Rooster, harbinger of a new life,

On the walls flapping wings?

Commentators conjure up, for that rooster who appears as “humans of the day” – also found in Likes Ovid – Ambrose Hymn (to the roosters) and the Gospel passage in which Peter denied Jesus, “before the cock crowed”, but perhaps for this function of the rooster’s coat of arms that with the announcement of the dawn signifies a new time, else time, we can remember a figure from the Jewish tradition, properly speaking of the Talmud, and Tarnegòl . barThat “wild cock” leopard The moral operetta; The narrator says that a Dick whose anthem was found in an ancient manuscript, written in a Hebrew letter, and in a language between Chaldean, Targum, Rabbinic, Kabbalistic and Talmudic.

A source, this one invoked by Leopardi, is perhaps more familiar with the Jewish myths that worked in the fantastic composition of Mandelstam.

In the other two passages, the light of the first house still echoes, crystallizing in the forms of the “Farewell Flag,” showing the aura of gestures and events whose voice can be heard from a distance. Images that come from the Roman epitaph (here, especially from Tibullus), and almost scenes from the bas-reliefs of a “Greek urn”, are noted through the harsh meridian glass: “This poor man is the language of joy” . But in the stanza that closes the third syllable, the time has manifested itself, time with its wave of disappearance and return, with the thorn of irreversibility and the flicker of sweetness already acknowledging the state, the inner being therefore no longer there:

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It was all at other times. Everything will come back again.

Just a moment of recognition is sweet to us.

The work of William Turner.

It is just a short passage in Mandelstam’s wonderful poetic universe. The poet who in his poems – in those published in life and after death (i notebooks Voroni, I Moscow notebooks) – and in his prose (among them, Travel to ArmeniaAnd in poetryAnd Conversation on Dante), which combined analogous impulse with musical invention, a passion for the letter, its sound, its independence, and illuminating evidence for metaphors. Mandelstam’s verses show how the “demon of analogy” – Mallarmé’s prose of the same name – cannot be lost in the obscurity and dilution of a particular allegorical tradition, but acts with the glow of insight and the absolute clarity of the image, to build a truly living language, the proper form of feeling: he left the origin of the poet The Russian movement “peak” of these signs, has given impetus to this poetic research. Concerning Mandelstam’s writing, Angelo Rebellino notes: “In essays and stories, as in poems, he longs to restore the body of things, which have covered their floral Impressionist features, and bind them with a dense interweaving. He is almost anxious to understate and thicken the flow, giving the words thickness, cubism, A crystalline substance saturated with light.

Mandelstam’s dialogue with the poetry of his friends such as Marina Tshvetaeva, Boris Pasternak, Anna Ashmatova also lies in this poetic research ‘: a dialogue that was a common experience of tragedy – the tragic of an era – and poetry as the language in which in the mists of that tragic one paints the features, form and sounds of another time. Years later Numerous, in 1957, Anna Akhmatova in a poem dedicated to a poet Do not be sad, will evoke the common “bloody youth”:

Oh, how sharp the smell of cloves

I dreamed of who knows when there.


It’s our shadows that flash

in the neva […]…

(Translated by Michel Colucci).

It was said about Mandelstam’s great love for comedy Dante. who reads Conversation on Dante (the Talking to Dante, also translated) – the pages that the poet dictated to his wife Nadezhda Yakovlevna, during a very difficult stay in the Crimea in the spring of 1933 – could not fail to reconcile this ardent, emotional and gently innovative interpretation of Crimea. comedyPictures of the same poem by Mandelstam.

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The position of the poet before Dante (but also the position he had before other beloved Italian poets, such as Petrarch, from whom he translated some sonnets, Ariosto, to whom he dedicated some compositions, and Tasso) proceeds from the idea that poetry is what cannot be paraphrased: the excess of the word meaning and image.

Dante’s poetry is for the Russian poet, a “multi-warp rug”, of “branched metaphors”, whose “glowing kinetics” enchant and excite the reader. The images of navigation—the flow of the wave, the sudden rises, the sudden intrusion—can serve to define its linguistic and fascinating energy. over there comedy As a brilliant “Treatise on Metamorphosis”.

The step, the step of the journey to the afterlife, is the beginning of his bride. A display showing the physical and physical sound of musical language. over there comedy It is a wonderful “polyhedron”, “a crystalline form, a solid intersecting with forms that generate continuous tension” (quote from a translation by Serena Vitale). Thus: “The future of Dante’s interpretation lies in the natural sciences, when they reach the necessary refinement and develop the ability to think in images.” The expository act before Dante also asks us to read that great poem in relation to our present. Because the verses of the Florentine poet are “devices launched to depict the future.” We can say this about the lines of Mandel Stamm himself. Verses that welcome the wounds of their time, also reach us with echoes and concordances they encountered along their path: among them, listening to a poet like Paul Celan, who translated the Russian poet into German.

The passion for poetry was forced to confront its free breath in the fog and terror of a political climate such as that created by the Stalinist regime (for Stalin, the “Kremlin mountaineer”, Mandelstam had dedicated a scathing poem in the fall of 33). This is what happened to a whole generation of poets, perhaps the most intelligent, enthusiastic and generous of the poets of our modernity.

Mandelstam was arrested at dawn on May 2, 1938, then sentenced to deportation, subjected to a severe dislocation, and was finally interned in a “temporary camp” near Vladivostok, waiting to be transferred to a concentration camp in Kolyma. He died at the end of December of the same year. The depiction of the poet comforting prisoners through the recitation of his translations from Petrarch spreads throughout the world of the gulag.

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The work of William Turner.

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