Thursday, December 08, 2005

235. Psalm

In lieu of talking about myself today, here's a beautiful poem by Avraham Ben Yitzchak, first published in 1910 in the Warsaw literary journal “Ha’Ivri Hehadash” (“The New Hebrew”). (Translation by Peter Cole.) According to the coordinator of my Israel trip, this was one of many literary works, written in Europe in a strange, dead language, that contributed directly to the blossoming of Hebrew culture that led to the creation of Israel. We'll be reading a different poem on the theme of light each evening in Jerusalem as we light Hanukah candles.


For a very few moments it happens you lift
your soul inside you like a crystal bead:
a world of sunlight and broken hues,
a colloquy of things seen and trembling;
and your eyes turn to your world
as to that bead of crystal—
though your world shudders, almost spills,
and in its fullness will not hold,
trembling into its limits…
And you’re given, it seems, to all worlds—
The edges of airy distance stream from your eyes
and the terrors of darkness deepen within them—
as things both distant and near find you,
and call for your soul.
in the stillness of nights,
At the mountains’ summit you stand
surrounded by cold and giant stars,
while the living below you sink to earth
and blackened oblivion falls
over the last flame of their grief—
and you’re awakened to terror
above the darkness.
And if a star should fall,
at the trembling flame a roar will ascend
from the straits of loss to heaven—
and the star will fall toward your soul
and die out in its abyss…
When morning comes
you’ll be hovering over the face of the void,
stretching your deepest blue across it,
the great sun in your hands—
until evening.


Regina said...

Wow- that was too beautiful for words, aa... thank you.

Lori said...

ditto what regina said