In the translation of a story by Daniil Kharms, I see the following sentence:

Thirty-five poles of time elapsed and mine host brought Ivan Ivanovich his entrecote on a round wooden platter.

Two phrases are not clear to me in this context.

The first one is "poles of time". Does that mean "units of time"? If so, the sentence starts with "Thirty-five units of time elapsed..." which is not an unusual expression for a Kharms story (but, I suppose, an unusual one in general).

The second phrase is "mine host". Here, "host" is the host of a hostelry. Is this an old saying/ phrase that's used when telling stories?

The full text of the story can be found at http://chneukirchen.org/tmp/www.geocities.com/Athens/8926/Kharms/Incidences.html towards the end of the page.

2 Answers 2


There is a question of translation here. We would need to know what the Russian word was and what it meant.

Pole is an obsolete unit of measure, but generally of length — one pole is 5½ yards. However, MW has a definition "a varying unit of length", so presumably it isn't always 5½ yards.

Given the rather esoteric language here — and the idiomatic use of “Mine host” here and “fine example!” in an earlier question — it is probably an accurate translation. It wouldn't surprise me if it's simply using an archaic word to mean "unit" or "measure".


Mine host is a well-worn phrase for a landlord, dating back certainly to Shakespeare if not before. (See here for an example)

  • Thank you. I also figured that out after some more search and was planning to delete that part of the question. But since you already suggested an answer I'll keep it. I hope, I also get an answer for the 'pole of time' :)
    – some user
    Commented Aug 4, 2012 at 21:31

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