Was entered, and its inner crust
Of crystals with a ray cathode
At every point and facet glowed
In answer to the mental thrust.
Robert Frost, “All Revelation”
A crucial year for Osip Mandel'shtam was 1930: it was in October of that year, in Tiflis, on the way back from Armenia, that poetry returned to him, after five years during which he wrote almost no verse. The Armenia poems (numbers 203-218) are among the first of the “new verse,” and, with their theme of penance for unproductivity and attempt to transform the factors of disturbance—the sense of limitation, confinement, deprivation—into sources of new energy, they testify to Mandel'shtam's current concern with the operations of his work. Moreover, at this juncture Mandel'shtam gives programmatic attention to the principles of his writing.