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KORN, Rachel

A Nai Klejd

Ich hob zich ongeton haint

tsoem ersjtn mol

noch zibn lange jor

a nai klejd.

Nor s'iz tsoe koerts far main troier

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.

A New Dress

Today for the first time

after seven long years

I put on

a new dress,

But it’s too short for my grief,

too narrow for my sorrow,

and each white-glass button

like a tear

flows down the folds

heavy as a stone.

Een nieuwe jurk

Vandaag kleedde ik mij

voor het eerst

na zeven lange jaren

in een nieuwe jurk.

Maar voor mijn rouw is zij te kort

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?