HG Poetics has received a great number of visitors in the last 24 hours, thanks to Mandelstam (and the McKanes). This archival post to his poem "To Natasha Shtempel", translated by Richard and Elizabeth McKane (Bloodaxe Books, 1996) was the link. A member of a Classics discussion list had posted the poem in the original Russian, in memory of the victims at Virginia Tech; then someone found the link to the McKanes' translation.
This poem, like certain pieces of music, always brings me close to tears. It's fitting for this season, and for last week. Mandelstam often connected poetry with medicine and healing.
The poem was Mandelstam's last published work, written in exile in Voronezh, in May 1937, a few months before his death in a labor camp in Vladivistok. As the McKanes note : "When Mandelstam gave this poem to Natasha Shtempel, he said: 'I wrote this poem yesterday. It is the best that I have written. When I die, bequeath it to Pushkin House.'"
Yesterday I took some soup Sarah had made to our neighbors across the street. Their nephew was one of the victims at Virginia Tech.