Nadirisms 10-11: Writer's Obligations
A poem came to me with teary eyes and asked: write me down. There’s no time to waste.
So I took pity on the poem’s teary eyes and wrote it right there and then--without waiting even a moment.
The same poem came back a half hour later, and with eyes yet redder than before it asked: unwrite me. My life is no life at all. Never having been written would be better than this.
I looked at the capricious poem and thought: what do I owe the bastard? Whatever I do for it, it’s never just. Fuck it. And, let me tell you, I got pretty pissed off.
A lid mir gekumen un mit farveynte oygn mikh gebetn: shrayb mikh on. Ikh hob nisht keyn tsayt tsu vartn.
Hob ikh rakhmones gehat af dem lids farveynte oygn un es geshribn glaykh afn ort--nisht gevart afile a minut.
Shpeter mit a halbe sho iz dos zelbike lid tsurikgekumen tsu mir, nor mit roytere oygn vi frier un mikh gebetn: antshrayb mikh. Mayn lebn iz keyn lebn nit. Beser zayn in gantsn nisht ongeshribn eyder azoy.
Ikh hob gekukt af dem kaprizn lid un getrakht: vos hot tsu mir der prikrer nefesh? Un vos ikh tu far im iz alts nisht rekht. Tfu zol es vern. Un oykh bin gevorn, hert ir, azoy gut ufgeregt.
When Moyshe Leyb (Halpern) comes to America, we both write at a feverish pace. We go through a barrel of ink a month. Other writers are the beginning of an artistic family. We are, apparently, the end. Our great-grandfathers ought to have been writers, if only they had known how...For this reason, they [now] push us forward, they drive us--dead uncles, grandfathers, aunts, sisters-in-law write through us, they guide our pens, standing in a row and waiting for us to write their belated words. We don’t even have time to wipe our noses.*
Az moyshe leyb (halpern) kumt keyn amerike, shraybn mir beyde hastik, fiberdik. Mir farbroykhn a fesl tint a vokh. Andere shraybers zenen an onheyb fun a kintslerishn mishpokhe. Mire zenen--vayzt oys--der sof. Undzere elter-zeydes hobn shoyn gezolt shraybn, nor zey hobn nisht gevust vi azoy...derfar shtupn zey undz unter, traybn undz--toyte feters, zeydes, mumes, shvegerins shraybn durkh undz, firn undzere hentlpenes afn papir, shteyen in a shrenge un vartn mir zoln shraybn dos, vos zey hobn farshpetikt. Mir hobn nisht keyn tsayt di noz zikh optsuvishn.
By Moyshe Nadir
Translated by Corbin Allardice
*- This is written in the present tense and so I present it here. However, to my knowledge, Moyshe Leyb Halpern lived primarily in the US, once he had emmigrated there, so I am uncertain of exactly what the first clause means. It was my initial instinct to render this in the past tense, but I have opted for fidelity. Unfortunately, the book does not include the original publication dates of the included aphorisms, so I am unsure if this was written before or after Moyshe Leyb’s early death...