tsoem ersjtn mol
noch zibn lange jor
a nai klejd.
oen tsoe eng far main lejd,
oen s'iz ajeder wais-glezerner knop,
wi a trer,
wos flist foen di faldn arop
farsjtejnert oen sjwer.
after seven long years
I put on
a new dress,
too narrow for my sorrow,
and each white-glass button
like a tear
flows down the folds
heavy as a stone.
voor het eerst
na zeven lange jaren
in een nieuwe jurk.
en voor mijn leed te nauw
en iedere wit-glazen knoop
is een traan,
die langs de plooien druipt
versteend en zwaar.
I Am Standing At The Noontime
I am standing at the noontime of your life,
A stalk bent with fullness in the middle of a field,
Which has already shed its green June-shirt
And is growing into the golden sureness of the days ahead.
The sun frolics with bluebells on distant meadows,
The summer is fragrant with the bitter scent of wild poppies,
With steaming, hot soil
And with my hair.
And when the day entwines itself in my blond braids,
And the evening gathers the pearls of dew,
Than my brown body falls to your feet,
Like the stalk which breaks before the reaper.
In this direction my father turned his face,
With his prayer shawl over his head.
Here are the fields and forests
He walked with firm tread.
My father’s murmuring prayer,
That like autumn leaves fell,
Could take my wild blood
My fierce passions quell.
Now I walk here alone,
The last of my race.
My grandfathers with their prayers
Made this a holy place.
And they and their grandfathers, too,
With their prayers and with their plough,
Dug themselves into this soil.
And the bond still holds now.
Under Poland’s poplar trees
They dreamed of the Holy Land,
They planted here the mountains of Gilboa.
Here their Jordan ran.
We are coming from far places,
From ghettoes, bunkers, crematorium fire,
The heirs of six million graves,
And we shall rise high, if not higher.
As if heaven opened
in a downpour of scabs and curses
that washed my blessings off
and made me stand before you naked.
Loneliness became my kingdom.
I saw wife, friends, neighbors
turn away in disgust
at the sight of my festering sores.
You stoned me, God,
with news of tragedy and holocaust
until I lay my face buried in the dust
and stammered, How much more?
Yet in my deepest, most bitter loss
I was richer then than now,
with cattle, children, wife and friends restored.
When you beat me with a heavy hand
I served you truly even as I blasphemed,
you gloried in my tears,
and even in my bitter accusations you were justified.
Now you give it back in overflowing measure,
double the number of sheep and cattle,
once again seven sons and three daughters,
so that I can drink my fill of a father’s joy.
How can I be joyful?
I am riper now by three and seven deaths.
I have buried ten of my dead in my blood.
I have long since wept for everything that was worth a tear.
I no longer weep or laugh at anything.
And I carry my name like a sack of ashes
to pour on all the mourning in the world.
I am a tent,
my door forever open
to all misfortune, let it le4arn from me,
to all catastrophe, let it come and borrow tears,
to all punishment, I am the eternal witness.
How can I believe you when you
lack faith in your own creation?
How can I trust you, when just for the sake of the game,
you gambled with Satan
and put me up as stakes,
a prey to blind chance?
Wasn’t my simple reverence enough,
my bowing to your radiant face
daily as the light came up?
I was whole and full in my days of joy,
I was still whole in my pain and suffering,
but now I’m cracked like a clay pot,
because there’s no longer any sense to your will, Lord.
If you tested and punished me in anger
to raise me as a flag of misfortune
for the people to see and to recognize you in my pain,
so that doubters would fear
and be reborn and believe –
Or if you doubled my suffering
or multiplied it by a thousand times
until I understood
what you mean by what you’ve done –
But you all-comprehending great Lord
of joy and sorrow,
you want the sky’s blue and the valley’s green
reflected in my eye again,
you want the wailing and howling I had in me
when my body wept pus and scabs
hidden by a quiet, unassuming smile.
Do you want me to forget it all,
bind myself again
to things that stand in blind assurance
this side of every woe?
Now I play games with you.
I wear my Sabbath clothes,
my holiday face.
I bring you every kind of sacrifice,
burn incense on the altar,
give you signs to make you think
I’m the Job I was.
But I have come to the last boundary,
the border where there is no guard or watchman,
where good and evil have no power.
Through my suffering I have come down to fundamentals,
but now I am poorer, more lost
than in my scabbiness or loneliness,
for who can restore my greatest loss,
who can take your place my God?