Two Poems for Uri Orlev

You Were Looking for Tidy Children’s Bedrooms 

The sirens howl for two minutes


pensive silence in your eyes

limbs and birds immobile

like in freezing winter

although we are in April


One minute for six millions

stars in heaven

one minute for five millions

moving in orbit around them

two minutes to think up

a eulogy for the dead

a eulogy for the living


In the Warsaw Ghetto you were twelve

your mother was already in the sky

the most luminous star

you had to help the men look for coal

in empty dwellings

and because you loved

collecting books & stamps

you were looking

for tidy children’s bedrooms


In Bergen-Belsen you were thirteen

you wrote poems

on the bunk beds’ wooden slats

before neatly copying them down

in a tiny notebook

and reciting them

on Jewish holidays

proudly standing on a small table


Sixty-eight years later

wrapped up in foil

the notebook shines

in your Jerusalem bedroom


Mauve sage flowers grace your garden

saving us from ourselves

when the leaves burn

sacred smoke cleanses the air

clouds travel to the children’s bedrooms

to bring them back


(poem written on Holocaust Remembrance Day)


(Sabine Huynh, published in the poetry magazine Poetry Super Highway)


Translating The Untranslatable

I translate the untranslatable


I try to transmit the incommunicable

the concentration camp universe

how can this be

how could it be

anashim rabim rabim kol kach*

why are they no longer with us


ashen poppies

bloodstained stars

my heart stumbles over each word

cries and moans in silence

my hand is paralyzed

before the irreparable

loss that tears my retinas

one by one my limbs

petrify before the vision


this dead-alive past

haunts the present

my eyes hear Polish words

attacking my lucidity

the horrible ogromna ludzi kupa **

setting off aphasia

then driving speech


poetry is lost forever

I have no right to betray

the quivering meaning

but this world nearby eludes me

how can I think the unthinkable

how to name the unnamable

in translation

when even fiction has been

drained by testimony


his voice lies there expiring

on the page

numbing half my face

my wasted voice cannot utter

may there be a language left

for speech and translation

for blood budding like poppies

for ash glinting into stars


a language to carry on the battle.




* Hebrew for « so many many people so many »

** Polish for « the stack of persons is enormous »


(Sabine Huynh, published in the poetry magazine Traduzionetradizione)


Commencez à saisir votre recherche ci-dessus et pressez Entrée pour rechercher. ESC pour annuler.

Retour en haut