Osip Mandelstam

The magic ship can never be recovered.
The room is filled with blue tobacco-mist.
A mermaid stands before us, seaweed-covered
and green-eyed.  She's ashamed that she has missed

the point and never learned the art of smoking.
The burning cinders scald her parted lips.
She doesn't notice that her dress is smoking,
that ashes fall from its green silken wisps.

The sea-farers found neither pipes nor pipe-stems:
the emerald depths hold on for all they're worth.
It's hard to get accustomed to the lights and
breathe the dry and bitter vapors of the earth.

translated from the Russian by Olga Kamensky