Poetry April 2012

The Necklace

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Take, from my palms, for joy, for ease,
A little honey, a little sun,
That we may obey Persephone’s bees.

You can’t untie a boat unmoored.
Fur-shod shadows can’t be heard,
Nor terror, in this life, mastered.

Love, what’s left for us, and of us, is this
Living remnant, loving revenant, brief kiss
Like a bee flying completed dying hiveless

To find in the forest’s heart a home,
Night’s never-ending hum,
Thriving on meadowsweet, mint, and time.

Take, for all that is good, for all that is gone,
That it may lie rough and real against your collarbone,
This string of bees, that once turned honey into sun.

Osip Mandelstam (1891–1938) is considered by many to be the greatest Russian poet of the 20th century. This poem originally appeared, untitled, in his 1922 collection, Tristia. Christian Wiman’s Stolen Air: Selected Poems of Osip Mandelstam is being published this spring.
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