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Autograph of "Stalin Epigram" written down at the time of Mandelstam's interrogation in prison.

The Stalin epigram, also known as The Kremlin Highlander (Russian: Кремлёвский горец) is a 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 his entourage. The Kremlin Highlander, of course, is Stalin, referring to his Caucasus Mountains origin.

The poem sets the tone in the opening couplet of the climate of fear which existed in Soviet Russia during those dark days.The text begins as follows:

We live, but we do not feel the land beneath us,
Ten steps away and our words cannot be heard,

And when there are just enough people for half a dialogue,
Then they remember the Kremlin Highlander.

Russian: Мы живем, под собою не чуя страны...


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