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Admiel Kosman

Lament for the Ninth of Av
Translated from the Hebrew by Lisa Katz

For cantor and congregants:
To be sung softly after reading the Book of Lamentations

Hardly any room for the body, my daughter.

The soul has seized nearly everything by force.

Hardly any room left for the body, though

itís true, my daughter, words were etched in stone,

but violently.

 

Hardly any room for the body. Nearly everything was written.

And all is turned to plunder inside the temple.

The body, torn and split, crumbles from the weight of the soul

trampling and destroying, spreading fear all around. Hardly any

room left for the body. Crushed, my daughter, broken, my daughter. Totally destroyed.

And prey for the soul.

 

Hardly any room for the body, my daughter, in exile

or when it leaves its place to wander, like a deportee

coming and going on the face of the earth, inching along, moving.

Didnít we know exactly, everything was written

my daughter. In those days there was no king,

and there wonít be room for the body.

The soul will control everything.

 

Southern angels, northern ones, angels of rage and guilt,

will shroud the blood with gold...the ark curtain...a robe....

shroud the ark, sure to arrive, in the horrors of war.

And the heart will know its mistake,

terribly aware:

everything was etched in stone, but violently.


Admiel Kosman, currently on sabbatical from Bar Ilan University, where he is professor of Talmud, has been teaching at Oxford and in Berlin and Potsdam this year. Born in Israel in 1957, he is the author of seven books of poems and writes a column on Midrash for an Israeli newspaper.

Lisa Katz is co-editor of the Israeli pages of the Holland-based Poetry International web site (http://israel.poetryinternational.org); she teaches in the English Department of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her translations of Israeli literature are forthcoming in Tikkun and Prairie Schooner, and have appeared in American Poetry Review and The New Yorker, and numerous other magazines.

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