Because we have had problems with spam bots, new persons wanting to edit this site must apply by e-mail to accounts[at]wikilivres.ca.


No, it is not a migraine, but pass me a pencil of menthol

Free texts and images.

Jump to: navigation, search
No, it is not a migraine, but pass me a pencil of menthol…
written by Osip Mandelstam
Keep my words forever…
From Moscow Notebooks. See also Poems. Translated from Russian by Dmitri Smirnov. In Russian: Нет, не мигрень, — но подай карандашик ментоловый. Link to further information





* * *


 — No, it is not a migraine, but pass me a pencil of menthol. [1]
 Here is neither the tenderness of art nor the colours of joyous space…

 Life began in a wash-tub with a guttural wet whisper,
 And continued with the soft soot of a kerosene lamp.
 
 Then in a cottage, somewhere in a wood, as though within a book-cover of shagreen,
 It suddenly flared up for some reason like an enormous lilac fire.

 — No, it is not a migraine, but pass me a pencil of menthol.
 Here is neither the tenderness of art nor the colours of joyous space…

 Then, through the coloured window pane, agonizingly screwing my eyes, I see
 The sky threatening like a cudgel, and the earth looking like a red bald spot…

 Then — I can’t remember any more – everything is cut off,
 I can pick up only the smell of tar and perhaps the stink of rotting whale-oil…

 — No, it is not a migraine, but the cold of sexless space,
 The zip of the tearing of gauze bandages and roar of a carbolic guitar…


23 April 1931




© Dmitri Smirnov, Translation. Can be reproduced if non commercial.


  1. Menthol stick, inhaler.
Personal tools