Crossing the Dnepr, and Nadezhda Mandelstam

I'm reading and re-reading Nadezhda Mandelstam Hope Abandoned (= Nadezhda Abandoned). Pretty much every chapter strikes a powerful chord with me. I liked this observation which I read last night, where she's talking about the poetry of her husband Osip Mandelstam, and not only that:

"For some reason impossible to explain or understand, the flash point in art comes through contact between what has been accumulated (or concentrated in the bloodstream) over the ages and something occurring at a single passing moment which, as a particle in the flow of time, is unique and never to be repeated, yet also eternal by virtue of having been stopped in its tracks. (Stravinsky made a similar observation about music.) The passing moment is eternal for him who halts it, and his reward for this brush with eternity is a sense of poetic rightness: "How to describe this roundedness and joy?" ... The passing moment is embodied in a combination of words uttered for the first time, though each by itself has long been in existence. What it amounts to is that the sudden contact between time past and the present moment, between the individual personality and the inherited world of other people, sparks off new ideas and words never before spoken.

The falsity of experimentalism is that it always skims over the surface in pursuit of some startling novelty or other. (For some reason, innovators always favour form at the expense of thought...) Novelty of this kind has a very brief life, since it lacks the unique and inimitable qualities obtained through the conjunction of time past with the present moment, of the personal with the universal, of one's own ideas and experiences with those of all humanity."

She has an uncanny habit of whacking the nail on the head, time after time.

Here is another image from our last visit to Kherson, crossing the Dnepr: