Rachel Bluwstein: My Dead (From Hebrew)

Rachel Bluwstein was born in Viatka in Russia and began life as a Russian poet. While on a detour from a trip to Italy to study art at university there, she visited the Land of Israel and fell in love with it, eventually deciding to remain there as a Zionist pioneer. She switched from writing Russian to writing in Hebrew, and worked as a farm laborer in Rehovot and Kinneret. Eventually she settled in Kibbutz Degania but was expelled when she was found to be suffering from tuberculosis, of which she eventually died in a sanatorium at the age of 41 after wandering for years around Tel Aviv on her own. The poem here, in its time and place, could not but evoke the traumatic and omnipresent sense of loss in the decades following the Holocaust - even if Rachel herself was spared its horror. 

My Dead
By Rachel Bluwstein
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Click to hear me recite the original Hebrew

"The dead alone do not die"
-Jacob Katsenelenbogen, British Hebrew author


They alone are left me, they are with me still,
In whom death's sharp knife has nothing left to kill.

At the turn of highways, when the sun is low,
They come round in silence, going where I go.

Our true covenant is one knot naught can sever.
Only what I lose is what I have forever.


The Original:
מתי
רחל המשוררת
רק המתים לא ימותו”– י.ש.ק.                                                                         ו”

הם בלבד נותרו לי, רק בהם בלבד
לא ינעץ המוות סכינו החד.

במפנה הדרך, בערוב היום
יקיפוני חרש, ילווני דום.

ברית אמת היא לנו, קשר לא נפרד
רק אשר אבד לי– קנייני לעד.

4 comments:

  1. Too bad the Hebrew original is misspelled.

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  2. Eep you're right. I should proofread the texts I grab from google for reference.

    Someone else also pointed out to me that of my hebrew texts (which I copy pasted from websites) are in כתיב מלא whereas others (which I myself hand typed from an anthology in כתיב מנוקד )‎ are basically in כתיב חסר. I should fix this.

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  3. Excellent translation, AZF. I must admit that having seen the list of your source languages (ארוכה כאורך הגלות) I was somewhat cynical, suspecting that you might have been spreading yourself too thin. Well, at least as far as the Hebrew translations are concerned you've proven me wrong. 

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  4. do you have a translation into English of ספיח?

    ReplyDelete

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