I came into the land as if into a kiln
to add more fire to the fire burning.
To add another body for the keen blade of the Hebrew destiny.
And at a gloomy hour I feel myself in the land of Israel
as if deep in the cut of the wound—
and it is galling to me, but I do not want to leave that cut!
A man walks in the world and blesses over sweet fruit;
I over my gall bless as he does.
At great intervals I gaze at the fair Jewish heavens,
fairer than majesty…and where is majesty down here, at my feet,
only bare flesh and desert and cruel agonies—
and at a gloomy hour I come to the sea and imagine I can hear
the fish in the sea opening their mouths
and speaking in the tongue of men to me
of the great orphaning.
Messiah is still not come.
Translated from the Hebrew by Atar Hadari
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.