Having a love of Persian poetry, known only through translation, and of Chinese poetry, engaged with tentatively and carefully in its original spareness, I loved this embroidered, sweeping, generous sentence.

May you be blessed with gift-bearing ambassadorial winds blowing out of Chinese poetry, and if you desire longevity (this complex sentence allows the possibility you might not), may it be silver-ladled over you by threes and fives.  Tragically, Mandelstam was denied any chance of longevity.


‘In Persian poetry ambassadorial winds blow out of China bearing gifts.  It scoops up longevity with a silver ladle and endows whoever might desire it with millennia by threes and fives. That is why the rulers of the Djemdjid dynasty are as long-lived as parrots.’


Source: Osip Mandelstam, Journey to Armenia (London: Notting Hill Editions, 2011), p. 88

Photo credit: Ivan Vranic, unsplash.com


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