Orioles in the woods: length of vowels alone
makes the meter of the classic lines. No more
than once a year, though, nature pours out
the full-drawn length, the verse of Homer.

This day yawns like a caesura: a lull
beginning in the morning, difficult, going on and on:
the grazing oxen, the golden languor powerless
to call out of the reed the riches of one whole note.

[Selected Poems of Osip Mandelstam, translated by Clarence Brown and W.S. Merwin]


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