Archive for February 10th, 2021

Wednesday, 10 February 2021

The Forty-Year-Old Man: 13 by Peretz Davidovich Markish

With blood cries the East; with pus, the West
the squares in suburbs scream atop pyres

Like scrolls of blood fires unfurl
every flame a cry of alarm

A howl from the heap of greed and plunder:
the body on a scale like a giblet for the butcher

Pyres of flags and flags of blood—
The whip frolics on flesh and on life

Dawn, streets and cities awash in blood
the greedy sword of plunder is never slaked

Somewhere chimneys shout smoke like gullets
the forced lives of the big and small

Somewhere pits haggle – a mile in the earth:
blood against gold and – done! It’s a deal!

All equalized. Skin sliced from bodies, its price
ferried by waves on the stock exchange

The price of skin pitilessly flayed
of a life in chains, of dying in need

The price of children in a mother’s womb
for anxious mothers, the price of a night

Freeze on the bodies, turned towards fire
nations walk bent with hands that are bound

Nations bound in chains of need
prices etched and branded on skin


Date: c1952 (original in Yiddish); 2016 (translation in English)

By: Peretz Davidovich Markish (1895-1952)

Translated by: Rose Waldman (19??- )