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  • Ancient Murderess Night, Black Mother in Need, Help Me!, and: I Did Not Know, My Lover, and: Oft gey ikh vi hinter a shleyer, and: Di nakht iz arayn in mayn hoyz
  • Anna Margolin
    Translated by Kathryn Hellerstein (bio)

!אוראַלטע מערדערין נאַכט, שוואַרצע מוטער אין נויט, העלף מיר

!אוראַלטע מערדערין נאַכט. שוואַרצע מוטער אין נויט. העלף מיר!פֿאַרשפין אים. פֿאַרשלינג אים, דערשלאָג אים צום טויט

,און איך,וואָס טרערן זײַנען געװען מײַן געטראַנק,אוו שאַנד מײַן ברויט.װעל טרינקען פֿאַרחלשט,גיריק און לאַנג,װי אַ ליבעס-געזאַנגזײַן װײַבס געװײן,דאָס שװײַגן פֿון קינדער,דאָס פֿליסטערן פֿון פֿרײַד.נאָך זײַן געבײן,װעל אויפֿשטײן װי אײנע, װאָס איז לאַנג געװען ןראַנק,אַשװאַרץ געשפענסט אין מאָרגנרויטוועל ליך בוקן צואַלע פֿיר עקן פֿון רויםאון זינגען, און זינגען, און זינגען צום לעבן.אַ לויב פֿאַרן טויט [End Page 136]

Ancient Murderess Night, Black Mother in Need, Help Me!

Ancient murderess night, black mother in need, help me!Seduce him, entwine him, devour him, beat him to death!

And I,For whom tears were my drink,And shame my bread,Will drink in, swooning,Greedily and long,Like a love song,His wife's cry,The silence of children,The whispering of friendsFor his bones.I will rise, like one long in a sickbed,A black specter in the morning's red,Will bow to all four corners of spaceAnd sing, and sing, and sing to this lifeA praise for death. [End Page 137]

,איך האָב ניט געוווּסט, מײַן ליבער

,איך האָב ניט געוווּסט, מײַן ליבעראַז מיט נגזאַמע בענקענדיקע פֿינגער.קריץ איך דיך אמײַן אין מײַנע לידער

איצט האָבן זיי דעם שווערן גלאַנץפֿון דמײַנע אויגן, די שאַרפֿע ליניעפֿון דמײַן מויל, פֿון דמײַן.עקשנותדיקער האַנט

,דאָס װוּנדערװען ממײַן אײגן װאָרט.באַרירט מיך מיט דמײַן האַנט

װען נאַנט, אָ נאַנט װאַקסטו אַרויס.פֿון שטררנגן ליכטיקן אַקאָרר…דאָס װוּנדער

I Did Not Know, My Lover

I did not know, my lover,That with slow, longing fingersI etch you into my poems.

Now they have the heavy gleamOf your eyes, the sharp lineOf your mouth, of yourStubborn hand.

The wonder,When my own wordTouches me with your hand.

When near, oh near you evolveFrom a severe, bright chord.

The wonder … [End Page 138]

Oft gey ikh vi hinter a shleyer

Oft gey ikh vi hinter a shleyer,Un es misht zikh mayn trot mit di tritFun aykh, nit gezeene geyer,Troyerik-sheyne, blut un tsvitFun mayn vanziknikn friling.

Un iber roy-rushnde gasnTrog ikh in vakhn gemitAyere shtimen, shmeykhlen, grimasn,Vi me trogt af di lipn a lid,Vi afn finger a kostbarn ring.

Often I Walk As If Behind a Veil

Often I walk as if behind a veil,And my step mingles with your stepsYou invisible walkers,Sorrowful, beautiful, bloomand blood Of my demented spring.

And through the noisy streetsI bear in my wakeful moodYour voices, grimaces, and smiles,As a song is born on the lips,As, worn on a finger, a costly ring. [End Page 139]

Di nakht iz arayn in mayn hoyz

Di nakht iz arayn in mayn hoyzMitn gebrum fun shtern, vasern, fligl,Mitsn shayn fun zumpn, shliakhn, tumanen.Ikh bin gelegn shtar un finster.Boymer zaynen arayn in mayn hoyz,Gerukt zikh rizik mit vortslen un shtamenUn urtife blik fun bleter.Un volkns oysterlish-groysZaynen gekumen mit duner un lakhn,Vi tunkele kep fun di geter.Un ale hobn zey gedreyt zikh shver, un vild, un vist.Un ale hob zey geroysht: "du bist, du bist, du bist."Ikh bin gelegn shtar un finster.

Night Has Entered my House

Night has entered my houseWith the roar of stars, waters, wings,With the light of swamps, dirt roads, fogs.I lie stiff and dark.Trees have entered my house,Thrust themselves in gigantically with roots and trunksAnd ancient-deep gazes of leaves.And clouds outlandishly bigCame with thunder and laughter,Like dark heads of the gods.And they all whirled hard, and wild, and bleak.And they all rushed, "You are, you are, you are."I lie stiff and dark. [End Page 140]

Kathryn Hellerstein

Kathryn Hellerstein is Associate Professor of Yiddish at the University of Pennsylvania. Her books include In New York: A Selection, a translation and study of the poems of Moyshe-Leyb Halpern; Paper Bridges: Selected Poems of Kadya Molodowsky; and Jewish American Literature: A Norton Anthology, of which she is co-editor. Her new books on women Yiddish poets are forthcoming from Stanford University Press. Her own poems have appeared in journals such as Prairie Schooner, Poetry, Tikkun, Bridges, Kerem and many anthologies. She is poetry editor of Nashim and Kerem.



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