Mandelstam / Ossian poem / Freely translated by Murdo Macdonald

‘I had not heard blind Ossian’s tales, I had not tasted that old wine, so why do I find myself in my imagination in a forest clearing? Why do I think as I look up that I see Scotland’s blood-red moon? I hear the rooks cawing and the sound of the harp reflected into ominous silence. And I see in my mind’s eye warriors’ tartan fluttering in the breeze, warriors’ shields flashing in the moonlight! But in contrast to this wonderful rambling dream with which my fellow poet has deluged me, the neighborhood looks dull indeed. That’s the thing about poetry: it jumps generations until suddenly some bard like me composes it again as his own.’