If Only I Knew

We present this work in honor of the 50th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Nelly Sachs
German
1891 – 1970

 

If only I knew,
what your last look rested on.
Was it a stone that had already drunk
many last looks, until they fell in blindness
on the blind?

Or was it dirt,
earth enough to fill a shoe,
and already turned black
from so many good-byes
and from causing so much death?

Or was it your last road,
That brought you the farewell from all roads
You had walked on?

A puddle, a piece of mirroring metal,
the belt buckle of your enemy, perhaps,
or any other small fortune-teller
of heaven?

Or did this Earth, that doesn’t allow
anyone to depart from here unloved
send a bird-sign through the air,
reminding your soul so that it flinched
in its body burned with anguish?

nightsong

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 60th birthday.

May Ayim
German
1960 – 1996

 

i no longer wait
for the better times
midnight blue sky above us
silver stars upon it
hand in hand with you
along the river
trees right and left
desire in their branches
hope in my heart

i straighten up my room
i light a candle
i paint a poem

i no longer kiss my way
down your body
through your navel
into your dreams
my love in your mouth
your fire in my lap
pearls of sweat on my skin

i dress myself warmly
i paint my lips red
i talk to the flowers

i no longer listen
for a sign from you
take out your letters
look at your pictures
conversation with you
till midnight
visions between us
children smiling at us

i open the window wide
i tie my shoes tight
i get my hat

I no longer dream
in lonely hours
your face into time
your shadow is only
a cold figure
i pack the memories up
i blow the candle out
i open the door

i no longer wait
for the better times

i go out into the street
scent of flowers on my skin
umbrella in my hand
along the river
midnight blue sky above me
silver stars upon it
trees
left and right
desire in their branches
hope in my heart

i love you
i wait no longer

Tel Aviv 1935

We present this work in honor of Yom Ha’atzmaut.

Leah Goldberg
German
1911 – 1970

 

Back then the masts on the houses were
like the masts of Columbus’ ships,
and every raven that stood on their tips,
heralded a different continent.

The knapsacks of travelers walked the streets
and the language of a foreign country
pierced the heatwave
like the blade of a cold knife.

How can the air of this small city
lift up so many
childhood memories, cast off loves,
rooms emptied out somewhere?

Like pictures blackening inside a camera
they turned—pure winter nights,
rainy summer nights across the sea,
and the grey mornings of the cities.

But footsteps beat behind your back,
the marching tune of a foreign army.
And it seems—if you just turn your head, in the sea
your city’s church is sailing.

Early Evening

Ilse Blumenthal-Weiss
German
1899 – 1987

 

In the awake forests
of the day
Your laugh pushes through
The darkness.

Voices slip out of control
Luscious in their song,
Far and wide,
Sprayed with fog,

They swim like a fever
Glowing in the blood.
Longer still, lovely
Rhythm and flood;

Again, still again
A blooming weight:
Bend down lower
Intoxicated guest.
Light circling light
Going into silence.
Poet and poet
Into one another

Their hands curve,
Indulging / Feasting Awake.
Day is coming to an end;
It is almost night.

Bread and Wine

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 250th birthday.

Friedrich Hölderlin
German
1770 – 1843

 

Round about the city rests. The illuminated streets grow
Quiet, and coaches rush along, adorned with torches.
Men go home to rest, filled with the day’s pleasures;
Busy minds weigh up profit and loss contentedly
At home. The busy marketplace comes to rest,
Vacant now of flowers and grapes and crafts.
But the music of strings sounds in distant gardens:
Perhaps lovers play there, or a lonely man thinks
About distant friends, and about his own youth.
Rushing fountains flow by fragrant flower beds,
Bells ring softly in the twilight air, and a watchman
Calls out the hour, mindful of the time.
Now a breeze rises and touches the crest of the grove —
Look how the moon, like the shadow of our earth,
Also rises stealthily! Phantastical night comes,
Full of stars, unconcerned probably about us —
Astonishing night shines, a stranger among humans,
Sadly over the mountain tops, in splendor.

Moon-Snow Lies on the Meadows

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 90th birthday.

Eva Strittmatter
German
1930 – 2011

 

Moon-snow lies on the meadows
as from you I go.
We’ve loved one another long now
not just since the last snow.
Yet every time, I come to you,
it’s so:
I don’t know, who I am, or where,
I’m sad and I’m madly happy.
(Part heathen and part saint.)

To the Duke of Leipzig

We present this work in honor of the 75th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Else Lasker-Schuler
German
1869 – 1945

 

Your eyes have perished;
You have been so long at sea.

But I too
Am lacking a beach.

My temples are made of shell,
Weeds and sea-stars hang on me.

Some day I want to rove
With my aimless hand across your face,

Or be a lizard on your lips
Curling up in the thrall of love.

Incense streams out of your skin,
I want to celebrate

And bring you all my gardens.
My heart breaks out in blossoms everywhere.