Translated from Yiddish by Faith Jones, Jennifer Kronovet, and Samuel Solomon
[From the bilingual book forthcoming from Tebot Bach Press]
My hands, two little bitsof my body I'm never
ashamed to show. With fingers—
the branches of coral,
of white serpents,
of a nymphomaniac.
I Fall to the Ground
Like juicy red applesmy cheeks flare up
in the sun
with a red flame.
I hold on—barely—to the tree, and not
fall to the ground,
and when someone,
dazzled by my red
cheeks, lifts me up
from the dirt, he then
tosses me aside with disgust
and pity because
my heart is eaten up
by the worms,
and that fat worm—passion—
just won't crawl out
of my juicy body.
I am left, discarded, as it
rots me to death.
You revel, I revel,in us revels the God
who ruins everything,
who won’t forbid.
Hammer my hands,nail my feet to a cross:
burn me, be burned,
take all my ardor
and leave me deeply ashamed:suck it from me and throw it away,
become estranged, alienated
and go your own way.
You plowed deepinto me—fertile earth—
and sowed there.
Tall stalks grew—love-stalks—
with roots down deep in the ground
and golden heads to the sky.
Surrounding your stalks, red poppies
You stood, suspicious,
and thought: Who planted poppies?
A wind passed through;
you had an impulse
to show it the way.
A bird flew through;
you followed him
away with your eyes.
Spoiled,you had been fussed over
by many women’s hands
when I came across you,
young Adam. And before I pressed
my lips to you
you pleaded, your face paler
and more gentle
than the gentlest lily:
Don’t bite, don’t bite.
I saw that teethmarks covered
your entire body. Trembling,
I bit into you—you breathed
over me through thin nostrils
and edged up to me
like the hot horizon to a field.
1Today in the first light hour after the rain,
the sun shines calmly, softly on me.
The fields in the valleys of
stretch far from the narrow path.
Somewhere out there trees turn blue
on the mountainside. The fields are sown
with raspberries, but it’s often not easy
to eat enough of them: you quickly lose yourself
in a labyrinth of outstretched green stabbing arms,
a braided, thorny wall of branches.
Yet after the rain there are tons of raspberries.
The sun shines calmly, softly on me.
Fresh milk awaits, but I don’t hurry to the farm.
My arm tears on the jagged twigs.
2Yellow and red mosaic of fields,
cultivated rows of trees—
here and there a lone tree.
You can barely see the mountain.
A world hemmed in by trees,
the mountain obscured by fog.
3No mountains—this is better.
The horizon gets farther, bigger,
in the soft distance.
My soul wanders, aimless.
In the soft distance, it blurs
and lightens. The whole world
swims in a tender gray.
No world—this is better.My eye gentler, bigger.
In the tender gray,
no world, no earth.
In the tender gray,
I swim undisturbed.
4I went up on the mountain and saw
fields like golden rivers
and trees on them like sails on ships:
green sails on golden rivers.
Close, in a deep, green abyss,
the road wound through the endless
seeming forest—a pink serpent
twisting between green sails of ships.
How insignificant, how small
was my valley, my little green valley:
it carried to me, as on wings of wind,
a lamenting sound.
My baby was calling to me.
But I was welded to the mountain,
and for a long time sorrow swung around me
and for a long time the baby cried and called out
until the valley heard my steps again.
Seeping from the cells of your skyscrapersis golden honey, light,
through millions of windows,
as through the cells of gigantic honey-combs,
you can see golden honey,
human honey, light.
Immense bees built their beehives here,
a forest of beehives,
and filled them until they overflowed with honey,
and the honey flows
and swallows the pitch on the shores of
* * *
Trees like these with golden fruit,a forest of golden fruit,
hung with lanterns.
[note. Among the more experimental Yiddish poets in early twentieth-century