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39th Virtual Poetry Circle

Are you ready for the 39th Virtual Poetry Circle this week?  I hope you are because this one’s special.  It’s the first of the VPCs that fall during National Poetry Month.

If you missed my earlier announcement this week (don’t worry, it’s a sticky post), you can check out the 2010 National Poetry Month Blog Tour details here.

Today, we’re going to travel back in time for a classic poem.

Remember, this is just for fun and is not meant to be stressful.

Keep in mind what Molly Peacock’s books suggested. Look at a line, a stanza, sentences, and images; describe what you like or don’t like; and offer an opinion. If you missed my review of her book, check it out here.

Today’s poem comes from Osip Mandelstam.

The Stalin Epigram (translated by W.S. Merwin)

Our lives no longer feel ground under them.
At ten paces you can’t hear our words.

But whenever there’s a snatch of talk
it turns to the Kremlin mountaineer,

the ten thick worms his fingers,
his words like measures of weight,

the huge laughing cockroaches on his top lip,
the glitter of his boot-rims.

Ringed with a scum of chicken-necked bosses
he toys with the tributes of half-men.

One whistles, another meows, a third snivels.
He pokes out his finger and he alone goes boom.

He forges decrees in a line like horseshoes,
One for the groin, one the forehead, temple, eye.

He rolls the executions on his tongue like berries.
He wishes he could hug them like big friends from home.

Let me know your thoughts, ideas, feelings, impressions. Let’s have a great discussion…pick a line, pick an image, pick a sentence.

I’ve you missed the other Virtual Poetry Circles, check them out here. It’s never too late to join the discussion.

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Please also stop by today’s National Poetry Month Blog Tour stop at Regular Rumination on Claudia Emerson.

© 2010, Serena Agusto-Cox of Savvy Verse & Wit. All Rights Reserved. If you’re reading this on a site other than Savvy Verse & Wit or Serena’s Feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

  • Serena

    I really think these lines bring home the pervasive nature of the corrupt government: "But whenever there’s a snatch of talk it turns to the Kremlin mountaineer, the ten thick worms his fingers, his words like measures of weight"

    This is well done. I really like the images, the worms in his fingers that squirm with anticipation…and his words that carry weight and each weight is different, implying the punishment will be weighty as well.

  • Jeanne

    the huge laughing cockroaches on his top lip…how evocative! When I think about that line, I feel I've seen a man like that, if only in a movie or imagined from a book.

  • Anna

    "He rolls the executions on his tongue like berries." Sounds like Stalin to me.

    –Anna
    Diary of an Eccentric