At my death
I will weep for your anguish that I died.
Before my death I say,
with all tenderness I say,
that if you could weep only a little,
like the doe
I once saw shed a tear or two
and then quit the place of its weeping
and climb to a distant crag
to see the world beyond tears –
If you could—
then I too would find a great stillness
like a river becalmed between its banks
flowing going to my fate.
If I meet you
my allusions will not be
like fine birds with delicate wings.
They will be like murky words
whose darkly secret depths
will hurt you with pain.
Happy is he who hurts this night
in your honor.
How many have fallen
in their fields
in battles raging for serenity.
fall in battles—
they break apart from their rhymes
like women from their jewels.
They are silent
until there comes one like you.
Until you come.
—translated by Leon Wieseltier
To read a review of a new documentary on Avraham Halfi, click here.
Nelly Sachs was 50 years old when she fled the Nazis with her mother in 1940. Few would have perdicted that she would receive the Nobel Prize for Literature twenty-six years later.
A 1944 poem, translated by Dan Ben-Amos.
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