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.
Poem No 2
Written in response to Anna Akhmatova – “We’re all drunkards here. …”
From: Osip Mandelstam
Translated by Bernard Meares