Abraham Sutzkever

(1913 - 2010 / Smorgon, Russian Empire)

Else Lasker-Schüler - Poem by Abraham Sutzkever

Stooped over, the donkeys are weeping in Jerusalem.
No more the holy old woman, the singer Else.
No one will come to feed them with sparkling sugar
And help them bear the wounded stones of the Kastel,
The stones that fall with a groan from the hearts
Of all who come to this land — a treasure of stones! —
To build a home for the homeless King Messiah.

Once upon a time, a donkey rolled down from a mountain,
Lost his front tooth. The old woman then melted
Her wedding ring at Nissim the Goldsmith's in the Old City
And the donkey was given a gold tooth as a present.

And who understood like her the weeping of the Creator?
He finished creating! Eternity, for Him already eternal —
A chain on His neck, and there is no other …
On her Blue Piano, in a hotel, she plays His remembrance,
When He was the master of chirping birds and lions,
Wrote with trees His fresh Paradise poem,
Kneaded a feminine rhyme from a masculine rib.

The ashen fingers, playing, are tranquilly dying.
She must not yet die! A young ant, deep in love,
Bitten till blood flows, strayed into her room —
And plays with the old woman on old keys of the piano.

She must not yet die! A sunflower fell in the garden —
A world fell! The seeds — gold-skinned men and women.
They will be sold in the market, their skins flayed …
She must free the slaves — the gold-skinned men and women.

She must not yet die! In the sea, waves are born.
They cannot speak. They demand with infantile hands!
The prayer for the baby waves must be sung to the end,
The storm must not swallow today their pink souls.

Where is the beginning of heaven? — in Jerusalem.
The old woman, now a star hovering over the buildings.
A Blue Piano, the city. A veiled bride.
I walk on the carpet of stone with Else,
Drunk on the Blue Piano and spliced by her dazzling sight.

Jerusalem, February 27, 1957

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Poem Submitted: Monday, July 21, 2014

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