Tuesday, February 27, 2007

O the Chimneys

Today is Tuesday, 27 February 2007.

This is one of my favourite poems.

The references extend far beyond Ha-Shoah, the “Holocaust”.

O the Chimneys

By Nelly Sachs

Translated by Michael Hamburger

And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God. JOB 19:26

O the chimneys
On the ingeniously devised habitations of death
When Israel's body drifted as smoke
Through the air -

Was welcomed by a star, a chimney sweep,
a star that turned black
Or was it a ray of sun?

O the chimneys!
Freedomway for Jeremiah and Job's dust -

Who devised you and laid stone upon stone
The road for refugees of smoke?

O the habitations of death,
Invitingly appointed
For the host who used to be a guest -

O you fingers
Laying the threshold
Like a knife between life and death -

O you chimneys,
O you fingers
And Israel's body as smoke through the air!


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