The Age of Totalitarianism

We live, not feeling the country beneath us,

Our speech inaudible ten steps away,

But where they’re up to half a conversation —

They’ll speak of the Kremlin mountain man.

His thick fingers are fat like worms,

And his words certain as pound weights.

His cockroach whiskers laugh,

And the tops of his boots glisten.

And all around his rabble of thick-skinned leaders,

He plays through services of half-people.

Some whistle, some meow, some snivel,

He alone merely caterwauls and prods.

Like horseshoes he forges decree after decree —

Some get it in the forehead, some in the brow,

some in the groin, and some in the eye.

Whatever the execution — it’s a raspberry to him

And his Georgian chest is broad.

Osip Mandelstam, We Live, Not Feeling, 1934?

Go here to find interesting notes on the age of totalitarianism – Stalin and Hitler.


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