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This poem is taken from PN Review 30, Volume 9 Number 4, March - April 1983.

Mandelstam's Hope for the Best Donald Davie

1. THE CASE AGAINST
'man must be the hardest thing on earth'

Stout and well-knit in fact,
But avian was the impression;
Skimming compacted bird-brain.
Everyone's ikon, martyred;
In life, not altogether
Lifelike, unless as a bird.

A bird that lives on bees!
No more classical emblem,
Gentile or Jew, will the age
That martyred him permit us
Than his own chirr of bees from
Stringent and high Taigetos;

Honeybees dried and strung,
Hard pellets, unto a necklace
...


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