October 22, 2012

"Marie" by Abraham Sutzkever

Written on a slat of a railway car:

If some time someone should find pearls
threaded on a blood-red string of silk
which, near the throat, runs all the thinner
like life’s own path until it’s gone
somewhere in a fog and can’t be seen—   

If someone should find these pearls   
let him know how—cool, aloof—they lit up   
the eighteen-year-old, impatient heart   
of the Paris dancing girl, Marie.

Now, dragged through unknown Poland—
I’m throwing my pearls through the grate.
If they’re found by a young man—
let these pearls adorn his girlfriend.
If they’re found by a girl—
let her wear them; they belong to her.
And if they’re found by an old man—
let him, for these pearls, recite a prayer.

Abraham Sutzkever, Yiddish poet and survivor of the holocaust, 1913-2010.

October 6, 2012

"Quintus Septimius Florentis" by Ezra Pound

Theodorus will be pleased at my death,
And someone else will be pleased at the death of    
And yet everyone speaks evil of death.

translated from the Greek Anthology by Ezra Pound