Stalin Epigram


Stalin Epigram

The "Stalin epigram" is an important satirical poem by the Russian Acmeist poet Osip Mandelstam, dated as being written in November 1933. Only 16 lines in length, the poem was in large part responsible for Mandelstam's arrest, imprisonment and ultimate death; it is both a suicide note and a searing indictment of the dictator Joseph Stalin and the rabble entourage with whom he was surrounded.

The poem is usually translated in English as a series of couplets, and, although this does not reflect the structure of the poem as it is in Russian, it brings with it the strong sense of the rhythm which underpins the work.

The poem sets the tone in the opening couplet of the climate of fear which existed in Soviet Russia during those dark days. The "Kremlin Highlander", of course, is Stalin.


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