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  • Writer's pictureCorbin Allardice

Poems 11,12, & 13: Mother, Adieu!, & Speak, Be Silent

Poem 11-- Mother (Untitled)

Mother, mother, poor old mother,

Do you know that your son,

Your only son,

Is long since dead?

And when you touch him

And when you hold him

And when, with a contented smile, you kiss him

You touch, you hold, you kiss

A dead boy--long since dead.

And when you look into his eyes

Are you looking into the face

Of death?


Because he still walks about

With soft shaking steps,

And he mutters, often,

Some depressive cant,

And, sometimes, he smiles

Such a strange smile--

Do you think that he’s alive?

And, with trembling hands,

Do you wrap his neck

In a warm, warm cloth.

And do you blind your eyes,

Taking your old, old life

And knitting it into socks

Of pure wool

For you dear son?

Mame, mame, alte umgliklekhe mame,

Veystu, az dayn zun,

Dayn benyokhed,

Iz geshtorbn shoyn fun lang?

Un ven du gletst im,

Un ven du haldz im,

Un mit a gliklekh shmeykhl kusht im,

Gletstu, haldzstu, kushtu

A shoyn lang gehtorbenem,

Un di oygn kukstu im arayn--

Kukst in ponim du--

Dem toyt?


Vayl er geyt nokh alts arum zikh

Mit shtil vaklendike trit,

Un er sheptshet oftmol

Epes umetike verter,

Un amol tut er a shmeykhl,

Aza modnem shmeykhl--

Meynstu az er lebt?

Un mit tsiterdike hent

Bindstu im dem haldz arum

Mit a varem-varem tikhl.

Un du blendst di oygn zikh

Un dayn altn-altn lebn

Shtrikstu in di zokn ayn--

Zokn emes volene

Far dayn libn zun?------

Poem 12 - Adieu! (Untitled)

Roads on which I onetime wandered,

Faces on which my eye has rested

Souls in which my soul’s been swallowed--*

I give you my regards!

And old and tired, wandering, am I,

A shadow wandering through life,

Without the joy of life, without the calm of death,

The joy of life is not my fate--

So, I want the calm of death

Thus, I want the calm of death--

I give you my regards!

Vegn, af velkhe ikh hob ven gevandlt,

Gezikhter, af velkhe mayn oyg hot gerut,

Neshomes, vos hobn amol mikh gefangen--

Zayt mir gegrist!

An alter, a mider gey ikh arum,

A shotn in lebn shlep ikh zikh um,

On freydn fun lebn, on ru fun’m toyt--

Vil ikh di ru fun’m toyt

Vil ikh di ru fun’m toyt--

Zay mir gegrist!

Poem 13 - Speak, Be Silent (Untitled)

Don’t speak, don’t speak.

I am afraid of words.

Under all of your kind words

My soul trembles

My soul twitches.

Don’t stop!

In your silence, I hear that wounded drone**

Which flows in black tides

To dim--and douse the words

Glowing in my soul.***

Console me.

With you caressing words

You inflame my soul to ash.

As with tongs hot from the foundry,

I am embraced

By quiet, tender


Reyd nit, reyd nit.

Verter shrekn mikh.

Unter yedn tryst vort daynem

Tsitert mayn neshome,

Tsaplt zikh.

Nit shvayg!

Ikh her in dayn shvaygn di paynen

Vos tsien in shtromen zikh shvartse

Un leshn--farleshn di verter,

Vos glien in hartsn.

Treyst mikh.

Mit dayne gletndike verter

Brenst du di neshome mir oys.

Glaykh tseglite tsvangen

Nemen mikh arum

Shtile, milde


By Moyshe Varshe

Translated by Corbin Allardice

*- “Neshomes vos hobn mikh amol gefangen,” literally, “Souls which once captured me.”

**- Lit. “In silence, I hear the sorrows (paynen).”

***- Lit. “glowing in my heart.”

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