Last Friday marked the tenth anniversary of the death of the great Israeli poet, Dahlia Ravikovitch 1936 – 2005. To celebrate her work I post some of her poems in my translation: This is the 3rd installment: one is from her second book Hard Winter- 1964, and the other from The Third Book –1969.
A Prayer for the Dead Seventeen Years Later
From Hard Winter
The cantor would read from the book of Psalms.
The trees whispered like an assembly of priests in black
We were not much taller than the tombstones
and we knew that resurrection of the dead would not come in our life time.
And from there yonder stood the ladder
to the steps of the holy and the saints whose essence is like sapphire
(most of them were resting at our feet),
and our life was like a locust on the border of sun and shadow.
But when the drowned girl passed through all the chambers of the sea,
We knew that it was the sea which gave birth to the rivers.
In Memory of Antoine de Saint Exupery
From The Third Book
A ghastly shining moon
reminded me in the middle of the night
how in forty three died
de Saint Exupery.
Now it has been twenty one years
and pieces of paper are flying in the wind,
and for twenty one years
the sea turns blue every spring,
now twenty one years
and all his bones have turned into sand.
and whoever is alive today is without him.
Twenty one years ago
his plane fell into the Mediterranean sea,
shaking amidst the strong spring winds.
The world is not what it was
weeds and wind,
wind and sand.
This surely is the look of the world
that no longer has Saint Exupery.
People don’t live forever
and we too are not forever
but was he saved that one time in March of forty three,
he would be with us
a shiny grain,
a rose in the wind
Laughing in the clouds.