Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Osip Mandelstam

Stalin-era poet Osip Mandelstam wrote a poem about the Dear Leader. The Dear Leader, who hoped the poet would one day write a glowing poem about The Man of Steel, threw Mr. Mandelstam into prison with a light three-year sentence. Mandelstam, like millions, died in prison from cold and hunger.

His poem is included in Robert Conquest's Stalin: Breaker of Nations on pages 187-188.

We've copied it here, replacing exactly three words.

We live, deaf to the land beneath us,
Ten steps away no one hears our speeches,

But where there's even half a conversation
The White House[1] mountaineer will get his mention

His fingers are as fat as grubs
And words, final as lead weights, fall from his lips,

His cockroach whiskers leer
And his boot-tops gleam.

Around him a rabble of thin-necked leaders -
Fawning half-men for him to play with.

They whinny, purr or whine
As he prates and points a finger,

One by one forging his laws, to be flung
Like horseshoes at the head, the eye or the groin.

And every tax[2] is a treat
For the broad-chested Hawaiian[3].

[1] Kremlin
[2] killing
[3] Ossetian

We remember a quote from Glenn Beck's CNN show from long ago: "This is Communism without the guns.


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