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  • Writer's pictureCorbin Allardice

Poem 16 - A Lullaby (Untitled)

Who came to me in the silence of night, who came to despoil

the radiant light

Of my still childish vision?

Who crooked my spine with a blight, and who a mask

affixed tight

Upon my fiery visage?

Who put in my way the corpses--the days--

Like signposts by me to be reached?

Who left broken and torn, my years not yet born,

Like autumn leaves, sallow and leeched?

I took my own soul and I burned it whole,

It’s ashes I left up to providence.

But I don’t curse and don’t weep, and I don’t gnash my teeth,

I just pace, just pace in the silence.

Ver hot in der shtil oysgezoygn fun mayne nokh

kindishe oygn

Dos shtralende likht?

Ver hot es mayn rukn tseboygn, un hot mit a maske


Mayn flamik gezikht?

Ver hot af mayn veg di harugim--di teg

Vi tseykhns far mir oysgeshtelt?

Ver hot mayne yorn, vos nokh nit geborn

Vi bleter in osyen fargelt?

Kh’hob mit eygene hent mayn neshome farbrent,

Ir ash af di vintn tsezeyt.

Nit ikh shelt, nit ikh veyn, nit ikh krits mit di tseyn,

Ikh gey mir arum shtilerheyt.

*- This poem is, clearly, heavily rhymed. As a result the translation is necessarily less than literal, if not terribly so. The rhyme and meter in the current form of this translation are less than perfect, although Varshe’s can also be somewhat cumbersome to declaim, at least in the opening stanza. His rhymes tend to be multisyllabic while mine are monosyllables, with the occasional nod toward multisyllabicity. Nonetheless, I hope the translation captures the oddest feature of this poem: the almost uncanny dissonance between the utter desolation of the speaker and the childish rhyme which propels the poem forward almost against its will, perhaps reproducing the drive to live (unwillingly) felt by the poet...

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