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Poetry

From “Ode to The Dove”

Translated from Yiddish
Trapped on the lips are sounds, like pearls of forts oceanate

Trapped on the lips are sounds, like pearls of forts oceanate
are mute for thousands of years, and over the muteness—a blade.
"Dove darling, childhood's child, let the lips speak, give them speech
Become now the cry of the sounds, or else the dream is extinct . . ."

A sudden kiss on my lips. Who and where am I? Finally
The locks all unlock themselves. Muteness is cut by a knife.
Pearls, pearls, and pearls, with secret rushes of sea
Raining from my lips now. A pearly terror attacks me.

Crickets—shoemakers—hammer their grass in my forehead.
Tears on my cheeks from the meadow coming into my attic.
Slaughtered, the hens are now calling out, honoring mourning.
Melted snows pour their spirit into my ear, ignited.

Who intoxicated the fingers and made them write the line
"The heroics of those done with living are all in me sown!"
My dove, you gave me a sheet of paper—a mirror.
The dazzling words of mine your wings spread over me.

From "Ode tsu der toyb." By arrangement with the estate of Avrom Sutzkever. Translation copyright 2010 by Zackary Sholem Berger. All rights reserved.

 

English

Trapped on the lips are sounds, like pearls of forts oceanate
are mute for thousands of years, and over the muteness—a blade.
"Dove darling, childhood's child, let the lips speak, give them speech
Become now the cry of the sounds, or else the dream is extinct . . ."

A sudden kiss on my lips. Who and where am I? Finally
The locks all unlock themselves. Muteness is cut by a knife.
Pearls, pearls, and pearls, with secret rushes of sea
Raining from my lips now. A pearly terror attacks me.

Crickets—shoemakers—hammer their grass in my forehead.
Tears on my cheeks from the meadow coming into my attic.
Slaughtered, the hens are now calling out, honoring mourning.
Melted snows pour their spirit into my ear, ignited.

Who intoxicated the fingers and made them write the line
"The heroics of those done with living are all in me sown!"
My dove, you gave me a sheet of paper—a mirror.
The dazzling words of mine your wings spread over me.

From "Ode tsu der toyb." By arrangement with the estate of Avrom Sutzkever. Translation copyright 2010 by Zackary Sholem Berger. All rights reserved.

 

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