“Laughing in the clouds”: Dahlia Ravikovitch

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.

Twenty one,

twenty one,

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.

About the Author
I have a PhD in English literature from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and I usually write about issues concerning women, literature, culture and society. I lived in the US for 15 years (between 1979-1994). I am widow and in March 2016 started a support/growth Facebook group for widows: "Widows Move On." In October 2017 I started a Facebook group for Older and Experienced Feminists. I am also an active member of Women Wage Peace and believe that women can succeed where men have failed.