Eyewear is pleased to publish a new translation of a great poem by Mandelstam, by Alistair Noon in Berlin. This is probably one of the first poems on the cinema. Vachel Lindsay, of course, had written on the subject.
Three benches. A projector.
The fever of sentimentality.
heiress who's been trapped
in her evil rival's nets.
Hands off this
love's true flight,
our heroine's done nothing wrong!
So pure it's almost
is her love for a lieutenant of the fleet,
conceived by a grey count
and now wandering the desert wastes.
the pretty countess, is the way
her picture-adventure leaves the
She starts to wring her hands
like a gypsy gone insane.
lovers split. The demonic sounds
now follow of a hounded piano.
trust's not hard to abuse.
She possesses sufficient bravery
to swoop on
some crucial papers
of interest to an enemy HQ.
Along an avenue of
a black motor car lumbers.
The film reel rattles. A thump
alarm thrills our hearts.
Sensibly dressed, with her sac à voyage,
travels the roads and rails.
All she's scared of is the chase;
tormented by a dry mirage.
The ending's both bitter and trite.
aren't justified by ends!
He gets his father's inheritance,
and she gets
sentenced to life.
Osip Mandelstam, 1913
Translated from the
Russian by Alistair Noon
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