Nadirisms 174-177: You Will Taste my Life
Born to a family of God-searchers, I began searching for a God as a child, and, in his place, I found...life!
And it seemed to me then that I alone had found the pleasurable secret of the world’s splendor and I alone knew, and I would never tell, for that would have been blasphemy…
At that time, God meant: life...I cuddled life tight against my breast and yet I yearned. I held life in my arms and yet I knew nothing, nothing of how to treat it out of love.
Geboyrn in a mishpokhe fun got-zukhers, hob ikh shoyn kleynerhayt genumen zukh a got, un, onshtot dem, gefunen...s’leben!
Un gedakht hot zikh mir demolt, az ikh eyner aleyn hob gefunen dem mekhayedikn sod fun der velts herlekhkayt un az nor ikh aleyn veys derfun un ikh vel es keynmol keynem nisht oyzogn, vayl es volt geven a khilel-hashem…
Got hot bay mir demolt geheysen: dos lebn...kh’hob getulyet s’lebn tsu zikh un gebenkt dernokh. Gehaltn es in di orems un gornisht gevust, vos tsu ton mit dem fun libshaft.
It took me years before I was able to rip faith out from my heart. Sown in foreign soil, face to a wind of iron dust, in the walls of smoke-filled halls, where they read lectures on the freedom of man’s life, and on the emptiness of the skies. And the more that I emptied the heavens, the emptier was my own life; and the more I tarried on my path to shul (synagogue), the more I tarried on my path to myself.
And, one day, freedom grew red and ripe within my soul, and faith vanished with the tides of time. And I stood as empty as a plundered temple: gone the gold and seyfer toyres (Torahs), the doors left open to the wind.*
Hot mir yorn genumen biz vanet kh’hob dem gloybn fun mayn harts aroysgerisn. Af fremder erd tsezeyt, inem vint fun ayznshtoyb, in di vent fun farroykherte zaln, vu men hot lektsyes geleyent iber der fraykayt funem lebn, iber der leydikayt fun a hoykhe himlen. Un vos mer ikh hob oysgeleydikt dem himl, alts leydiker iz gevorn mayn eygn lebn; vos mer ikh hob farshotn mayn veg tsu der shul, alts mer hob ikh farshotn mayn veg tsu zikh aleyn.
Iz di frayhayt royt un reyf gevorn in mayn neshome, un der gloybn iz af di vasern fun der tsayt farshvumen. Un ikh bin geblibn azoy leydik vi an oysgeplindert templ, fun velkhn men hot ale heylikaytn aroysgenumen un ale tirn ofn gelozt.
There must be something after death which is not life. A final darkness. A rest in which all is put to rest. Unstormed. After life cannot come life. Just as there is no true desert after the desert’s end. If it is to be rewarded, life cannot be rewarded with life; if it is to be punished, life cannot be punished with life.
Epes muz dokh zayn nokhn toyt vos iz nisht lebn. A sofike fintsterkayt. An opru in velkher alts iz oysgeloshn. Antshturemt. Es kon dokh nisht zayn keyn lebn nokh lebn. Punkt vi es iz nishto keyn vistenish akurat nokh dem vi di vistenish endikt zikh. Dos lebn ken nisht baloynt vern mit lebn oyb es fardint a baloynung, es ken nisht bashtroft vern mit lebn oyb es fardint a shtrof.
I thought up so many tender, bitter thoughts, thoughts which I sealed in me.
I permit myself no pleasure from the treyf pleasure trembling in me.
Yet something in me knows that somewhere in me lies those tender, bitter once-thought thoughts perfuming my life like a sick rose petal does the first breath of morning air.
And my life will crumble, that tender breath will ascend, and you will taste my life, which was delicious, like guelder roses burning in the snow.
Ikh hob zikh fil ongetrakht mit eydl-biterlekhe trakhtungen un zey farziglt in mir.
Ikh fargin mir nisht hanoe tsu hobn fun der treyfer hanoe vos tsitert in mir.
Nor epes in mir veyst, az ergets in mir ligt ongetrakht eydl-biterlekhe trakhtungen, farshmekn mayn lebn un makhn es vi a hoykh fun a frimorgn af a krank royznbletl.
Un vet mikh dos lebn tsebrekhn, vet der eydeler hoykh ufgeyn un ir vet filn dem tam fun mayn lebn, vos iz geven azoy geshmak vi kalines vos flamen in frost.
*- The text literally says “the religious/sacred object (heylikaytn) were taken.” I found this hard to translate directly, as terms in english for religious or sacred objects tend to carry a Christian connotation which I did not want to smuggle into the text. I thus opted to use the metonymy of “gold and seyfer toyres.”