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  • Writer's pictureCorbin Allardice

154th Nadirism: Narayev, Crown City of my Life

154th Nadirism:

Narayev!-- -- --*

Gray dove of mine, who hangs in blue air,

Your perfume will again blossom there

in the space between my dead nose hairs.


Groye toyb mayne, vos hengt in

Bloyer luft,

In mayn toytn nozlokh vet blien

Nokh dayn duft!

Excerpted from the poem Narayev:


Narayev’s river hasn’t a name

We just call it river and it’s there all the same.

The earth is soaked deep in generations of rain,

Soaked deep in sunleaves and lushening.

Here all is broken, here the roads run crooked, untame.

For they wend here and there, but they look for nothing.

The snow, my God, whose snow is so pure?

Not the peak of Mount Hermon nor the Jew’s Fort.**

Not desert lime, not sand, not the milk in a new mother’s breast,

Not the rains from the west, nor eternity’s excess,

Can be so pure, so blue a whalebone firmament.

Not even the tenor of the heaven’s lament

Can be so tender as Narayev’s first frost

On straw whiskers on the hunchbacked dirt

Like white cats in a winter copse...

Gleaming gold on silver frost

And steam--from chimneys of a horse’s port.

An angel in a church window plays the trumpet

His wings raise the field’s hill up to the forest!

The forest stands felled in a hedgehog-rage

With sugar-coated branches in a zig-zag arranged

And which love! O, which loves--

Dovepure, tearstill, yearnhued--

Will tug on your heartstrings unto death!

And which winds roll white thorns

To the Viennese Road***, and to laughing scorn

From the Goyish graves with crosses aside

With galewinds and with snow-tides

With the pealing tear of the sleeping bell,

With golden bags, with silver pelts-- --

For short blows of winter’s long flute,

For rueful stars in the earth taken root…

Which balance trembles in my brain, which reprisal?

Debussy dreams his jagged idyll.

Oh darkening of my flesh, sunrise of my soul!

Gauguin burns the world in sulfur yellow.

The One Mallarmé is white as marble

And Heine and I are as yet double…

The living poem stabs my breast with milk

Blood, winter’s white silence, echoes thick.

I can’t stay here--I can’t depart

My cigar lit with gold and blood

Kisses the ashes-round-the-rosey edge

of life’s rolling paper:

A white grandfather ‘hind a gray flour sack.

The distillery hangs its smoke--a half-formed flag

The stench of here-and-now from an oil-soaked rag

The ragged edge of the sky gone dull in dreaming

And the earth’s more pure than this sky.

Oh smoke, oh snow, oh wing of yesterday!

You who bore me to the highest acme

And now it’s dead. All dead.-- --

The years sew over over the wound with a golden thread.

What in dream is silver, was in truth but lead.

But I who do not live in truth, I who barely live

Amuse myself only with that which froths and rives..

The seaside spray which flows out from black stone

That is my dream’s thick winter coat.

My open wound bleeding white fear

Is like a raw breach, now sodded over.

Narayev!-- -- --

Gray dove of mine, who hangs in blue air,

Your perfume will again blossom there

in the space between my dead nose hairs.

Narayevs taykh hot keyn nomen nit

M’ruft im taykh un m’kumt oys dermit.

Di erd iz durkhgeveykt mit doyres regn,

Iz durkhgeveykt mit zunbleter un tsvit.

Tsebrokhn iz do alts un krum di vegn--

Zey dreyen zikh ahin, aher, un zukhn gornisht nit.

Der shney, maynt got, vemens shney iz nokh azoy reyn?!

Kh’bin af kharmon (חרמון) un tshufut-kali shoyn geven--

Nit midber-krayd, nit zamd, nit milkh in a muters brust,

Nit regn vos gist, nit di eybikayt vos flist--

Ken zayn azoy reyn, azoy bloik fishbeyn--

Nit afile dem himls tsar aleyn

Ken zayn azoy tsart, vi narayevs ershter frost,

Mit shtroy-vontses af horbediker erd,

Vi a vayse kats in shtiln khrost…

Shtralend gold af zilbernem frost

Un pare--fun di koymens vi ufgeshtelte ferd.

Fun kloyster-shoyb a malekh dem trumeyter shalt

A felder-barg zayn fligl heybt tsum vald!

Der vald shteyt yozhik-beyz, farhakt

Mit tsukerdike tsvaygn farzigzagt,

Un velkhe libe! O, velkhe libes,

Toybnreyn, trernshtil, benkshaft-farbik--

Raysn ale strunes fun dayn harts tsum shtarbn!

Un velkhe vintn koykln vayse dorn

Tsum vinerveg, tsum lakhndikn tsorn

Fun tsvinters ayngeshtokhene mit kreytsn

Mit vint-varukhes, mit shney-gefleytsn,

Mit glekerdiker trer fun shleferdike glek,

Mit goldene, mit zilberne zek--

Far kurtse vintn af vinters langer fleyt,

Far bange shtern af der erd farzeyt…

Velkhe vogshol tsitert in mayn markh, velkhe vog!

Debyusi troymt zayn tsakign eklog.

O tunklung fun mayn guf, ufgang fun mayn zel!

Gogn brent di velt mit shveblgel.

S’iz vays vi mirmlshteyn ayntsiker malarmei

Un ikh un hayne zaynen mir tsvey…

S’lebedike lid shtekht mayn brust mit milkh

Dam vinters vayse shvaygn hilkht--

Ikh ken nit blaybn do, avekgeyn--oykh nit

Mayn tsigerpapir mit blut un gold farroykhert

Kusht ash-royzik dem rand fun lebns gilze:

A vayser zeyde hinter groye mil-zek.

Di gralnye hengt aroys ir roykh--a shlabrik fendl,

Es shmekht mit “ot” dos naft-getunkte shpendl.

Dem himls rendl farloshn in a driml

Di erd iz a loyterer fun himl…

O roykh, o shney, o fligl fun mayn nekhtn!

Getrogn hostu mikh tsu hoykhkayt hekhster.

Un itst iz alts avek-- -- --

Di yorn neyen-tsu di vund mit goldene shtekh.

S’vert in kholem zilber, vos in vor iz blekh.

Nor ikh vos leb nit vor, vos leb koym-koym

Ikh shpil mikh alts mit alts vos iz fun shoym.

Baym yam der shprey vos zetst fun shvartsn felz

Er iz mayn kholems tifer vinter-pelts.

Vi a royer thum mit groz un boym badekt

Azoy mayn ofenen vund vos blutikt vayse shrek.

Narayev!-- -- --

Groye toyb mayne, vos hengt in bloyer luft,

In mayn toytn nozlokh vet blien nokh dayn duft!

*- Moyshe Nadir’s Hometown

**- A reference to Chufut-Kale

***- This was apparently the (Jewish) name of a road in Narayev. Nadir also refers to it an autobiographical prose piece “Meanwhile I’m here, in America-land” (dervayl bin ikh in amerike-land).

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