The Dark Speech of Silence Laboring: Osip Mandelstam's Poems & Translations --- Betsy Sholl | Numéro Cinq
There is an intimacy in Mandelstam's voice that carries a quality of purity, as if the poems welled up from within and were first whispered to himself as provisional stays against the chaos around him. The words are like boulders allowing him to cross a difficult river, one bank being his own interior life, the other the outside world of Soviet life. Even in translation the intensity of his language comes through, a sense of the physicality of his words, an almost palpable voice. His genius for metaphor is clear: in the rapidity of association images have that quality of transformability or convertibility, which he admires in Dante, whose “similes that are,” he says, “never descriptive, that is, purely representational. They always pursue the concrete goal of giving the inner image of the structure or the force… (Conversation about Dante).”