יום שישי, 10 באפריל 2015

How to Ask When One Does Not Know How

Yitzchak Mayer

The sons, they ask, the daughters too,
yet all the answers we provide
do not ring true, do not ring true,
like clouds they pass on by.

Off to what islands do the angels run,
when the storms break ships at sea,
and in what castle do the kings hide, done,
when madness runs rampant to rule the free.

Who commanded ‘Respect thy Mother and Father’, while
working the stillness of the bereaved and the the silence of orphans,
who perfumed the nightly winds with love, in style,
yet bore in his breast at midnight the cursed club of the very heavens.

And how do the boys, how do the girls know
what to ask, in these days before their prime,
perhaps the answers in the air do float
like birds circling since creation over the vineyards and vines…

And which came first, the truth or lies,
the dream or its interpretation, the furrow or the plow,
what was first, what last, he who lives or he who dies,
was it the end or the forever after of the here and now.

Where is yea’s mother country and where can we
find the kingdom of ennui’s absolute nay, and why
is it that what was is all that will yet be,
and how can there be an abyss in the very heavens on high.

And how do the boys, how do the girls know
what to ask, in these days before their prime,
perhaps the answers in the air do float
like birds circling since creation over the vineyards and vines…

And why do the heavens create the rich and noble,
why does blood mix and mingle with blood,
why do the dice work paupers who stumble
through nights in the deserts of desire’s false flood.

And where is the judgment, where is justice, belated,
when mercy died and compassion passed away,
like in some temple with its dais desecrated,
an orphan bereft of priest and the sages of the day.

And how do the boys, how do the girls know
what to ask, in these days before their prime,
perhaps the answers in the air do float
like birds circling since creation over the vineyards and vines…

And how do you begin to ask when you do not even know how,
how is it that the wicked seem innocent alongside
the silent fools who flood the streets now
rushing through the world to enjoy their lives.

And all the questions weigh heavily on tongue and lip,
all the answers await the mute masses yet to ask;
and evening falls silently, into silence slips,
into the blush of twilight past.

- Passover Eve, 5775

Translation: Binyamin Shalom, received an MA in English Language and Literature from the University of Pennsylvania and has been translating Hebrew literature for over ten years.  He is currently preparing the English translation of Yitzchak Mayer’s Isha Achat.

המקור העברי של השיר: איך שואל מי שאינו יודע לשאול

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