On Modesty

When a certain genius, squealing,

cried to Mandelstam

that they don't publish him,

the monsters,

the poet became angry,

the way

he would

at a clich'e.

Tactful Osip Emilevich,

as chroniclers have noted,

didn't sweet-talk the genius,

but let him go down the stairs

and, boiling over intentionally,

threw his gloves after him:

``And Jesus Christ,

did they publish him]''

I grow bit by bit.

I am published -

why should I be sad,

but for Christ

getting published was more difficult.

He might even have finished

his complete works,

but Christ didn't count on

the correction of comrade Pontius.

Writing dozens of little books,

is morally nothing,

when you only think

of Christ.

Translated by Albert C. Todd

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