Posts tagged ‘leonard george wolf’

Sunday, 24 May 2020

My Mother by Leonard George Wolf

My Mother used to say:
Laughter and light—
That’s all it takes to deal with life.

And, with that,
She became urgently busy,
Worked like a horse,
Cooking, washing,
Bedroom to cellar,
Cupboard to attic,
Windows and walls,

Until her hands were like the hands
Of a day laborer:

Out of the water
Into the dough,
Out of the dough,
Into the water.

And running, running
Running like a heavy bird
Newly created and already sick
That hardly knows what food
It ought to eat

Well . . .

When she came to die
It’s true that she had, indeed,
A golden candelabrum for
Her Chanukahs,
But, as for laughter . . .

Hush—

An ugly story.

From: https://www.commentarymagazine.com/articles/leonard-wolf/a-group-of-poems/

Date: 1959 (original in Yiddish); 1959 (translation in English)

By: Leonard George Wolf (1923-2019)

Translated by: Leonard George Wolf (1923-2019)

Saturday, 23 May 2020

For Years I Wallowed by Itzik Manger

For years I wallowed about in the world,
Now I’m going home to wallow there.
With a pair of shoes and the shirt on my back,
And the stick in my hand that goes with me everywhere.

I’ll not kiss your dust as that great poet did,
Though my heart, like his, is filled with song and grief
How can I kiss your dust? I am your dust.
And how, I ask you, can I kiss myself?

Still dressed in my shabby clothes
I’ll stand and gape at the blue Kinneret
Like a roving prince who has found his blue
Though blue was in his dream when he first started.

I’ll not kiss your blue, I’ll merely stand
Silent as a shimenesre prayer myself.
How can I kiss your blue? I am your blue.
And how, I ask you, can I kiss myself?

Musing, I’ll stand before your great desert,
And hear the camels’ ancient tread as they
Sway with trade and Torah on their humps.
I’ll hear the age-old hovering wander-song
That trembles over glowing sand and dies,
And then recalls itself and does not disappear.
I’ll not kiss your sand. No, and ten times no.
How can I kiss your sand? I am your sand.
And how, I ask you, can I kiss myself?

From: https://www.yiddishbookcenter.org/language-literature-culture/yiddish-literature/focus-itzik-manger

Date: 1958 (original in Yiddish); 1984 (translation in English)

By: Itzik Manger (1901-1969)

Translated by: Leonard George Wolf (1923-2019)