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  • [inline-graphic xmlns:xlink="" xlink:href="01i" /] "Be'ir Hahareigah"
  • [inline-graphic xmlns:xlink="" xlink:href="02i" /] and Hayyim Nahman Bialik
  • The City of Slaughter
  • Translated by A. M. Klein

     Arise and go now to the city of slaughter;     Into its courtyards wend thy way;     There with thine own hand touch, and with the eyes of thine head,     Behold on tree, on stone, on fence, on mural clay,5  The spattered blood and dried brains of the dead.     Proceed thence to the ruins, the split walls reach,     Where wider grows the hollow, and greater grows the breach;

     Pass over the shattered hearth, attain the broken wall     Whose burnt and barren brick, whose charred stones reveal10  The open mouths of such wounds, that no mending     Shall ever mend, nor healing ever heal.

     There will thy feet in feathers sink, and stumble     On wreckage doubly wrecked, scroll heaped on manuscript,     Fragments again fragmented-

15  Pause not upon this havoc, go thy way.     The perfumes will be wafted from the acacia bud     And half its blossoms will be feathers,     Whose smell is the smell of blood!

     And, spiting thee, strange incense they will bring-20  Banish thy loathing-all the beauty of the spring,     The thousand golden arrows of the sun     Will flash upon thy malison; [End Page 9]

[End Page 10]

     The sevenfold rays of broken glass     Over thy sorrow joyously will pass,25  For God called up the slaughter and the spring together,-     The slayer slew, the blossom burst, and it was sunny weather!     Then wilt thou flee to a yard, observe its mound.     Upon the mound lie two, and both are headless-     A Jew and his hound.30  The self-same axe struck both, and both were flung     Unto the self-same heap where swine seek dung;     Tomorrow the rain will wash their mingled blood     Into the runners, and it will be lost     In rubbish heap, in stagnant pool, in mud.35  Its cry will not be heard.     It will descend into the deep, or water the cockle-burr.     And all things will be as they ever were.

     Unto the attic mount, upon thy feet and hands;     Behold the shadow of death among the shadows stands.40  There in the dismal corner, there in the shadowy nook,     Multitudinous eyes will look     Upon thee from the sombre silences-     The spirits of the martyrs are these souls,     Gathered together, at long last,45  Beneath these rafters and in these ignoble holes.     The hatchet found them here, and hither do they come     To seal with a last look, as with their final breath,     The agony of their lives, the terror of their death.     Tumbling and stumbling wraiths, they come, and cower there.50  Their silence whimpers, and it is their eyes which cry     Wherefore, O Lord, and why?     It is a silence only God can bear.

     Lift then thine eyes to the roof; there's nothing there,     Save silences that hang from rafters55  And brood upon the air:     Question the spider in his lair! [End Page 11]

[End Page 12]

     His eyes beheld these things; and with his web he can     A tale unfold horrific to the ear of man:     A tale of cloven belly, feather-filled;60  Of nostrils nailed, of skull-bones bashed and spilled;     Of murdered men who from the beams were hung,     And of a babe beside its mother flung,     Its mother speared, the poor chick finding rest     Upon its mother's cold and milkless breast;65  Of how a dagger halved an infant's word,     Its ma was heard, its mama never heard.

     O, even now its eyes from me demand accounting,     For these the tales the spider is recounting,     Tales that do puncture the brain, such tales that sever70  Thy body, spirit, soul, from life, forever!     Then wilt thou bid thy spirit-Hold, enough!     Stifle the wrath that mounts within thy throat,     Bury these things accursed,     Within the depth of thy heart, before thy heart will burst!75  Then wilt thou leave that place, and go thy way-     And lo-     The earth is as it was, the sun still shines:     It is...


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