Diary of the Plague Year: Day 14 29 March 2020: Quotidian Poetry Osip Mandelstam (1891-1937)

The idle life has sent us insane.
Wine in the morning, hungover by night,
How can pointless gaiety be restrained,
Your flushing face, plague-drunk again?

In handshakes at parting lies a torturing rite,
And kisses in the street at night
When heavily the rivers flow
And streetlamps like ancient torches glow.

We lie in wait for death like a wolf of myth,
But I fear the one who’ll first be dead
Is he whose lips are a care-racked red
And over whose eyes a long curl twists.

November, 1913

Poem No 2

Written in response to Anna Akhmatova – “We’re all drunkards here. …”

From:          Osip Mandelstam
                     50 Poems

Translated by Bernard Meares
New York