& as I was looking around while composing those comments to Stephen Burt's piece, I came upon this Wikipedia entry.
The "Scythian" theme is real in Petersburg poetry. Blok has a famous poem , "The Scythians", on the advent of the Revolution.
Ossetia, and the Ossetian language, descend from ancient Scythia, which Herodotus called "the land of the Gerrhi" (see modern day Gori, in Georgia, focus of recent headlines).
Mandelstam set himself "like flint" against Stalin. The priest-kings are still battling for the golden bough in the sacred wood. One of his poems identifies poetry with the free, full-throated song of horsemen bringing children to their wedding. His Stalin epigram, on the other hand, mocks the "barrel-chested Ossete". Here's a passage from July, the 3rd bk of Forth of July :
He spoke awhile and was quiet awhile and I heard a Scythian golden horde thundering in the distance drone of trumpets pounding hoofs the tinkling of tiny earrings rustling gowns robes awash with pendants jingling so far so small now in the infinite raft of grassland horsemen, sober bringing the children to their wedding with clear-eyed innocent song full-chested doubleyoudoubleyou gone by invisible now up into the air like dew toward a mound of earth in Gerrhus in the land of Gerrhi where clovers grow quatrefoil one urn one lucky seven worked from soil beside great rivers & one Suger-bee