Nature Poems

New Furrows in the black earth
yield to the autumn sun
like women birthing for the first time:
bearing the pain and smiling,
they’ve decided to give birth again.

Crows gather for the party
taking measured dancy steps.
Their clever black eyes search for unearthed worms,
heads shaking
like old aunts chewing cake and showing blue gums:
“It’s not so bad. The pain will go like the dew,
and the joy will come soon, very soon,
even before the pointy-tail swallows
cut the first wool in the spring sky.

Sunsets are
like the last hemorrhage
of a consumptive,
that floods the sky’s
Western rim,
and embraces sorrow’s
at the scarlet-red ribbon.

The palm trees
with the oncoming night,
already darken.
They stand like
forsaken old people.
From time to time they
shake their weary heads
and raise their fringed twigs,
as if wanting
to rake away from themselves
the thick sad silence.
Under the burden of the moribund day
the pomegranate sea breathes heavily,
and splashes its white froth
upon the sandy edge-
the sandy shore,
the delicately weaving patterns
left by the legs of sea-gulls-
Spread in the length and width,
like a net,
to catch the first glittering star.

To the president and Rachel Shazar

Blue fog on the Galilean hills;
a scattering of stars
and the full moon rules;
the whole sky is hers.

The moonlight falls on Kinneret,
and the waves curl pink,
as if a morning star, sunk and forgotten in the water,
were waking from his dreams.

In a courtyard, the sad unearthly
sobbing of a donkey-
his heavy burden of the day to come.

And bats circle, circle, circle
over water, hill, and tree,
as if the night were shooting arrows,
dark arrows into the hidden heart of dreams.

Tiberias, December 1965

Swallows, like dark arrows
Lined the air
And it seemed
That gentle evening
Would gather in
The restlessness and the sorrows of the day
E’er it pass.

Earth held her breath’
To catch the sound
Of gurgling sap in trunks of trees
Which stood
Awaiting that sentient moment
When sky would set upon their heads
A crown of stars

Like girls yearning to be married, the overripe
acres of grain
wait for the singing wedding guests
who haven’t come
in all these grieving days of summer rain.
They look up shyly as the summer sky,
its young head lost
in grandmother’s soft grey cap,
weeps the melancholy fate of the fields.

Indoors since hay time,
sharp and shining
with the bridegroom’s desire and joy,
the scythes wait for the sun’s first smile,
the blessing
that will summon them to the wedding dance
on the full ripe brown fields.

Translator’s Note: This is a translation of “Zumerdiker regn”, which appeared in “Yidishe dikhterins antalogie”, ed. by E. Korman.Chicago, 1928. p. 200. Korn included a different version of the poem, titled “Regn” in “Dorf” 1928, p.37, reprinted in “Heym un heymlozikeyt” 1948, p.21.

I am standing at the noontime of your life,
A stalk bent with fullness in the middle of a field,
Which has already shed its green June-shirt
And is growing into the golden sureness of the days ahead.

The sun frolics with bluebells on distant meadows,
The summer is fragrant with the bitter scent of wild poppies,
With steaming, hot soil
And with my hair.

And when the day entwines itself in my blond braids,
And the evening gathers the pearls of dew,
Than my brown body falls to your feet,
Like the stalk which breaks before the reaper.

Sandalwood-trees with silver-grey stems—
Are the first to burst aflame,
As if no longer fearing
To be cheated of their birthright,
In haste and eager,
Before the green leaflets sprout and blossom
Teething on the thin, bare branches
Like stiff, tinder-red hen-combs when in combat.

And it seems that soon
The triumphant cry of the rooster
Shall drift from the tree-lines,
Arousing the muted longings
Through those long, winter nights.

The sky drinks in the early-blossoms’ wine,
While the west’s aglow with eventide,
Bearing fiery colors to the sea,
Tingling the deep, coral islets,
Growing paler, even paler,
While the sea shimmers in the reddish glare.

I cannot understand
The wild, mad lines
Written on the misted window-panes,
By a withered twig.

It may be a portent
From a veiled remoteness,
Where night meets the day –
An omen,
That I stand by, be ready.
It well may be its tear-filled sorrow,
Or, perhaps, a longing,
Reluctant to depart.

On the misted panes
The wind pastes a tree-leaf—
A yellowed sign
That summer’s gone
Like a wilted dream.