Black Candle

by Osip Mandelstam

Your girlish shoulders are for blushing,
For blushing under whips, and in dawn’s raw ice to shine.

Your child-like hands are for pushing,
For pushing flatirons and feed sacks, and knotting twine.

Your feet, infant-tender, are for tiptoeing,
Tiptoeing through shattered glass, in the blood-tracked clay.

And I, I am for you, a black candle burning,
Like a black candle I am burning, and dare not pray.

(February 1934)
Translated from the Russian by Christian Wiseman.

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