This is one of those late Mandelstam poems - one among so many - which come through for me even in translation.

He can still remember the wear and tear on his shoes,
and the worn grandeur of my soles.
I, in turn, remember him : his many voices,
his black hair, how close he lived to Mount David.

The pistachio-green houses on the foxhole streets
have been renovated with whitewash or white of egg;
balconies incline, horseshoes shine, horse - balcony,
the little oaks, the plane trees, the slow elms.

The feminine chain of curly letters
is intoxicating for eyes enveloped in light.
The city is so excessive and goes off into the timbered forest
and into the young-looking, aging summer.

Mandelstam, exiled in Voronezh, is remembering a fellow poet & Tiblisi, the capital of Georgia (near Mount David). (Resonates oddly for me, since John Tagliabue & his family lived a block down the hill from Mount David, a little hill in Lewiston, Maine.) The ordinariness of these lines is suffused with melancholy & loving memory. (Translated by Richard & Elizabeth McKane, from the Bloodaxe Bks edition of Voronezh Notebooks.)

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