Song of the Stranger

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 110th birthday.

04-16 Jabes
Edmond Jabès
Egyptian
1912 – 1991

 

I’m looking for
a man I don’t know,
who’s never been more myself
than since I started to look for him.
Does he have my eyes, my hands
and all those thoughts like
flotsam of time?
Season of a thousand wrecks,
the sea no longer a sea,
but an icy watery grave.
Yet farther on, who knows how it goes on?
A little girl sings backward
and nightly reigns over trees
a shepherdess among her sheep.
Let us wrench thirst from the grain
of salt no drink can quench.
Along with the stones, a whole world eats
its heart out, being
from nowhere, like me.

 

Translation by Rosemarie Waldrop

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