Osip Mandelstam was born in Warsaw, Poland and grew up in St.Petersburg, Russia Mandelstam was taught by tutors and governesses at his home. He attended the prestigious Tenishev School from 1900 to 1907 and traveled then to Paris from 1907 to 1908 and Germany from 1908 to 1910, where he studied Old French literature at the University of Heidelberg. In 1911 till 1917, he studied philosophy at St. Petersburg University but did not graduate. Mandelstam was a member of the 'Poets Guild' from 1911 and had close personal ties with Anna Akhmatova and Nikolai Gumilev. His first poems appeared in 1910 in the journal Apollon. In 1918 he worked briefly for Anatoly Lunacharskii's Education Ministry in Moskow. In the 1920s Mandelstam supported himself by writing children's books and translating works by Upton Sinclair, Jules Romains, Charles de Coster and others. He did not compose poems from 1925 to 1930 but turned to prose. In 1930 he made a trip to Armenia to escape his influential enemies. Mandelstam's Journey to Armenia (1933) became his last major work published during his life time. Mandelstam was arrested the first time in 1934 for an epigram he had written on Joseph Stalin. In the transit camp, Mandelstam was already so weak that he couldn't stand. He died in the Gulag Archipelago in Vtoraia rechka, near Vladivostok, on December 27, 1938.His body was taken to a common grave. International fame came to Mandelstam in the 1970s, when his works were published in the West and in the Soviet Union.
Poet W. S. Merwin (William Stanley Merwin) was born on September 30, 1927 in New York City. He attended Princeton University. He has authored over fifteen books of poetry and some of those titles include "The River Sound" (Alfred A. Knopf, 1999), which was named a New York Times notable book of the year; "The Vixen" (1996), which won the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; "The Carrier of Ladders" (1970), which won the Pulitzer Prize; and "A Mask for Janus" (1952), which was selected by W. H. Auden for the Yale Series of Younger Poets. Merwin won a second Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for The Shadow of Sirius (published in 2008). He has also published books of translation, which include Dante's Purgatorio, numerous plays and books of prose. Some of Merwin's honors include the Aiken Taylor Award for Modern American Poetry, the Bollingen Prize, the Governor's Award for Literature of the State of Hawaii, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the PEN Translation Prize, the Shelley Memorial Award, the first Tanning Prize and a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Writers' Award. He also received fellowships from the Academy of American Poets, the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation and a Ford Foundation Grant. He is a Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets and received a five-year term as judge of the Yale Series of Younger Poets.