“To Read Only Children’s Books” by Osip Mandelshtam [trans. James Green]

To read only children’s books, treasure
Only childish thoughts, throw
Grown-up things away
And rise from deep sorrows.

I’m tired to death of life,
I accept nothing it can give me,
But I love my poor earth
Because it’s the only one I’ve seen.

In a far-off garden I swung
On a simple wooden swing,
And I remember dark tall firs
In a hazy fever.

 Source: Tuirgin


3 thoughts on ““To Read Only Children’s Books” by Osip Mandelshtam [trans. James Green]

  1. smiles. To fear the unkown is offten thought to be a love of the known… I don’t know if the two are equals, but it is possible to love what’s known becouse it’s not all that bad.

  2. To only read children books;
    to only cherish children thoughts;
    Grown up things to disperse far away
    and rise from deep sorrow.
    I am mortally tired of life,
    i have nothing from it,
    but I love my wretched earth
    for I know not another.
    I was swinging in a forest far away
    on a simple wooden swing,
    and dark tall fir trees
    I recall in a foggy delirium.

    Not sure if this is better. It’s hard the word don’t mean exactly the same, and the rythm is lost because of grammar

  3. Thank you AD

    yes that it a good alternative translation – well done. I can’t read the original Russian, so translations are all I have to enjoy this poem. It’s well known that translation in poetry is a very contentious issue…

    thanks, I think I like your more accurate translation better, now. Often with translation, one has to read the translation almost as a poem “in itself”, and it’s often a case of choosing the one you prefer as a poem…


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