The sea-shell

Monday, March 13, 2006
It may be, night, you do not need me;
Out of the world's abyss,
Like a shell without pearls,
I am cast on your shores.

Indifferently, you stir the waves
And immitigably sing;
But you shall love and cherish
This equivocal, unnecessary shell.

You shall lie down on the sand close by,
Apparelled in your raiment,
And bind to the shell
The colossal bell of the billows.

And your whispering spray shall fill,
With wind and rain and mist,
The walls of the brittle shell —
A heart where nobody dwells...

Osip Mandelstam (1911)

Translated by James Greene