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Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category



Winter Noon

Jul6

by: Umberto Saba, translated from the Italian by Paula Bohince on July 6th, 2016 | Comments Off

Winter Noon

At that moment when I was happy

(God forgive me the word so vast,

so tremendous), who drove almost to tears

my brief joy? You will say, some

beautiful creature passing

who smiled. No, a balloon instead,

a stray blue balloon

in the blue air, and my native

sky as never before, clear and cold,

noon winter resplendent

sky with some white clouds

and the windows of the houses, sun blazing,

tenuous smoke from one or two chimneys,

the divine in every

thing, globe by the incautious hand

of a child escaped. He cried

in the crowd, his pain

his great pain in Stock

Exchange Square, where I sat in a café

admiring through the glass with shining

eyes the climb or fall of its goodness.

 

(Translated from the Italian by Paula Bohince)

__

Mezzogiorno d’inverno

In quel momento ch’ero già felice

(Dio mi perdoni la parola grande

e tremenda) chi quasi al pianto spinse

mia breve gioia? Voi direte: “Certa

bella creatura che di là passava,

e ti sorrise”. Un palloncino invece,

un turchino vagante palloncino

nell’azzurro dell’aria, ed il nativo

cielo non mai come nel chiaro e freddo

mezzogiorno d’inverno risplendente.

Cielo con qualche nuvoletta bianca,

e i vetri delle case al sol fiammanti,

e il fumo tenue d’uno due camini,

e su tutte le cose, le divine

cose, quel globo dalla mano incauta

d’un fanciullo sfuggito (egli piangeva

certo in mezzo alla folla il suo dolore,

il suo grande dolore) tra il Palazzo

della Borsa e il Caffé dove seduto

oltre i vetri ammiravo io con lucenti

occhi or salire or scendere il suo bene.

 

 

 

 

Umberto Saba (1883-1957) was born as Umberto Poli in Trieste and became one of the most important figures in Italian Twentieth Century poetry. He also wrote prose and served as a soldier in World War I. He died in Gorizia, Italy.

Paula Bohince is the author of three poetry collections, including Swallows and Waves (Sarabande, Jan. 2016). Her translations from the Italian have appeared in The Kenyon Review, Agni, PN Review, and the Journal of Italian Translation. She lives in Pennsylvania.

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Our Dreams

May3

by: Ilan Stavans on May 3rd, 2016 | Comments Off

A new poem from scholar and author Ilan Stavans:

Our Dreams

Every night, as we close our eyes,

we are free

and the world starts anew.

 

In the realm of dreams,

there is no past,

everything happens at once,

night is day,

people are ghosts,

we are happy

and the world is ours.

 

Every night, as we close our eyes,

we are out of Egypt,

lead by Moses

onto the Promised Land

 

In the realm of dreams,

the lamb sits next to the lion,

the land is plentiful,

the air is clean,

and the water fresh.

 

And then our eyes reopen.

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From Holocaust to Protest: the Poetry of Tuvia Ruebner

Mar28

by: on March 28th, 2016 | Comments Off

Not this did we want, no no, not this.
Without them, who are we and what is ours
Not this did we want, not thus did we think it would be
how the Land would devour and devour.

~ Tuvia Ruebner, from “One Plague and Another”[1]

March 24th, 2016 / Yud daled bi’adar: an Introduction

Uncharacteristically, I begin this essay with the date on which I am composing it – yud’daled in the month of Adar, Purim. This holiday has always felt to me a difficult, even dangerous, one: on the one hand it commemorates how the Jewish people were saved from destruction; on the other hand, it is a holiday marking the Jewish people’s own violent impulses and need for revenge (as expressed in the gratuitous killing of all of Haman’s sons). The violence of the day is fully evident in its ritual expressions – the noise, the drunkenness, the deliberate inversion of order – that have blotted out for me the levity of costumes and even the generosity of mishlochei manot and Purim tsedakah.[2]

This year, Purim’s danger feels to me heightened. Two days ago, bombs exploded in Brussels, killing over 30 people, wounding hundreds. The terrible images of carnage and destruction claimed our television screens and newspapers yet again, announcing the new age of terror that is changing life in Europe forever. Fear is the common lot now, as terrorist bombs make no distinctions in race, religion or nationality; inevitably, fear for oneself becomes fear of the other, with all its accompanying prejudices and even hatred.

But it is the response of the Israeli government to the Brussels bombings – specifically, the response of Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu – where I feel my fear of Purim and all it signifies come most forcefully to the fore. In a video message to the AIPAC conference on March 22nd – just hours after the bombings – then in a press conference aired on Israeli news on March 23rd, Netanyahu asserted the following: the terror of stabbings that have made Israeli streets bloody these last six months is identical to the terror now sweeping through Europe; the uprising of Palestinians (who have been oppressed and denied basic rights for almost 50 years) is the same as the indiscriminate violence of ISIS and its fundamentalist objectives. Conflating completely the Palestinians and ISIS, Netanyahu stated the following: “[They] have no resolvable grievances…what they seek is our utter destruction and their total domination.”

The obscenity of this conflation, the obscenity of this claim, is born of decades of lies. The obscenity of this conflation and this claim is born also of generations of utilizing the violence visiting upon us, the Jewish people, as absolute justification for the violence we have visited and continue to visit upon the Palestinian people, and our refusal to allow them to create an independent state on the West Bank for their own homeland.

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Ancient Grief

Mar8

by: Hannah Renglich on March 8th, 2016 | 2 Comments »

I can’t keep up with all the tragedies.

What do I do
to carry,
to embrace,
to hold
all this despair?

I am emptied.

Swollen with
uncomfortable silence,
pregnant with futility,
overwhelmed,
nauseous,
and numb,
I’m left mounting
scraggly defenses
to keep from caving in.

and then I remember

the gentle nudge
of a memory,
edging in sideways
from the Great Beyond
(or was it
the Great Before),

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