David Vogel: Autumn Nights (From Hebrew)

Born in what is today Western Ukraine in 1891, David Vogel grew up in the Yiddish-speaking culture of Lvov and Vilna before moving to Austria to get a break from the constant cruelty that was the imperial Russian treatment of Jews. He spent his 20s in Vienna where was arrested during WWI as an enemy alien, under suspicion of being a Russian spy. He spent a couple of years in British Palestine, but found himself too European to become a Zionist settler. So he moved back to Europe, this time to Berlin. He then wisely fled in 1933 (the year Dachau first opened for business) and sought refuge in Paris where he was eventually imprisoned as an enemy alien again, this time under suspicion of being a German spy. Then, as if to complete the over-the-top tragedy, he was ferreted out by a Nazi Jew-hunter in 1943 and shipped out to Auschwitz, where the trail ends and where he presumably died a testament to damn near everything that went awry in the 20th century. 

In Autumn Nights
David Vogel
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Click to hear me recite the original Hebrew

In autumn nights
A leaf unseen falls in the forest
And lies still to the earth.

In streams
Fish jump out of the water.
And an echo of a wet beat
Answers back in the dark.

In the black distance
Hoofbeats of horses unseen are sown
Dissolving hence and thither.

All this
The wearied wanderer will hear
And a tremor chatters his bones.

The Original

בלילות הסתו
נופל ביערים עלה לא–נראה
ושוכב דומם לארץ.

יקפוץ הדג מן המיים
והד נקישה לחה
יען באופל.

במרחק השחור
נזרעות דהרות סוסים לא–נראים
הנמסים והולכים.

כל אלה ישמע
ההלך העייף
ורעד יעבור את בשרו

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