Saturday, April 10, 2010
"What shall I do with this body they gave me"
What shall I do with this body they gave me,
so much my own, so intimate with me?
For being alive, for the joy of calm breath,
tell me, who should I bless?
I am the flower, and the gardener as well,
and am not solitary, in earth’s cell.
My living warmth, exhaled, you can see,
on the clear glass of eternity.
A pattern set down,
until now, unknown.
Breath evaporates without trace,
but form no one can deface.
Mandelstam's speaker is questioning the meaning of his life. The last three stanzas get to the very heart of the poem's meaning. Like fog on a glass, the trace of this man will disappear shortly after his breath stops unless he does something that will cement him permenatly into the minds of humanity. In this case, the very poem is that cement. If "form no one can deface," but "breath evaporates without trace," then the only way to make words permanent is to write them down. If Mandelstam is indeed the speaker, then he is questioning the direction his life has taken. As mentioned above, Osip feels that poetry, especially in Russia, is a force to be reckoned with. If he can immortalize himself in his poetry, then his life will have meaning.
at 2:36 PM