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[Page 12]

Day by Day Before Daybreak

by Ron Adi[1]

Translated by Jerrold Landau

  Day by day before daybreak, as the third watch sets[2]
This stubborn hour returns. My body is then sprawled out
As a lump of clay like it was created. My soul is having difficulty
Returning. Without being there, it is bound to the foothills of the Carpathians
On the banks of the San River, the Slavic river
Staggering and sniffing like an abandoned pack of dogs.
What does such an abandoned pack of dogs understand about the way the world works?
The odor of scorched flesh drives it mad.
It howls out: Oy, oy, such emptiness. Like a ripple
In time. Land on this side, and land on that side, with the depths in the middle. And the intellect
That rises to the heights of the skies cannot comprehend such a depth.
Would there at least be a stone monument or a Peh Nun[3] bound to the holy birds
Mourning above in grief (and in truth, an arrow here, aimed beyond the source)
The hand grasps it, extinguishing the glimpse of memory of the vitality
In the heart: That the eyes jump upon it – wounded birds on the planks
Of a lost ship.

At Least a Stone Monument

  And a handful of bones under it: The flesh wore away from atop them
In the darkness of the earth, they shine with the splendor of glistening metal –
With the wonderful attractiveness of the bird in its nest
It wandered afar, from the wife, the children and the houses that we built
It spread over the bare mound, the childhood then will come with our blood
With this type of strong pleasant agony, that a man hears with the perception
Of voices emanating from inside of him as if from an echoing cave.

Day by day, before daybreak
Even the herons, lovely birds that quiver
As is known, like brides in their wedding whiteness, no grace
And no vitality in them, only grayness and smokiness, like a monster of the Creator
In silent darkness. Furthermore, the field into which they descend,
Located between our houses with its green grass
With a dual image among the mountain ridges (One face toward us,
And one toward them), and its air looks out at the sun,
Honey golden like the wings of dancing birds:
At that moment, it is also silent, only like a sort of hallway
Long and narrow, covered in concrete
And at its end – the heart already guesses this – investigators await
Thousands with cold eyes
Day by day, day by day.

[Page 13]

Thou Art the Town

by Eliezer Sharbit

Translated by Jerrold Landau

  Forgotten and forsaken art thou, remembering and remembered.
The wanton ones did evil unto you, did they even cause you to be forgotten from our heart?
They lessened your image, like all other lofty cities
Will your crusaders have brought loathing to every pained and loving friend?

Are you still my mother town that bore me? In my nurtured body
There is yet a caress and pampering embrace from then, warm and bright,
Like the warmth of a maternal kiss in moments of memory I will grasp
For I will never see it again, and never again sit in its bosom.

Like you, as you were, empty eyes look toward you:
It is you, and another. For you were tranquil and also overturned.
The confession of those suffering pangs of conscience still echo.

You were orphaned as well as widowed, my town, you were destroyed and also murdered!


Translator's Footnotes

  1. This was a particularly difficult poem to translate, with obscure idioms and innuendoes. return
  2. Traditionally, from Talmudic times, a night was divided into three watches. return
  3. These two Hebrew letters [פ”נ] are the acronym for “Poh Nitman” (Here is buried), which is usually the first term on a gravestone inscription. return


[Page 14]

El Moleh Rachamim

Translated by Jerrold Landau

L-rd full of mercy

Judge of widows and Father of orphans
Do not be silent and accepting
Of Jewish blood that was spilled as water
Grant full repose under the Wings of the Divine Presence
In the holy and pure heights
As the splendor of the firmament that is bright
And radiant, to the souls of
The martyrs of

Sanok and its region

Men, women, boys, and girls
Who were murdered, slaughtered, burned,
Strangled, and buried alive
All of them are holy and pure
And may their souls be bound in the bonds of eternal life.

Land, do not cover their blood.


A photocopy from the parchment scroll of the martyrs of Sanok that was affixed
by the Organization of Sanok Natives in the Holocaust Cellar next to Mount Zion in Jerusalem

(See pages 375, 376)


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