Ode To the Dove Pt. V
by Avrom Sutzkever
translated by Zackary Sholem Berger
Build up the temple and raise it, build high with a sun-lit mind!
The devil is nearly afire to lead my dove to temptation.
A gray sun, the colors all spun with gray lichen.
The temple has burned away. The columns, like animals, fled.
Children in their skeletons he arrayed like golden birds,
To poison the poets forever: poison on the lips of all sounds.
Faces stuck on necks like axes’ shadows below.
Pleased are the dead when flesh is brother with iron.
Earth and heaven are swampy, and I’m sunk up to my neck.
Fire–I’m stuck in the dark. A stone with snuffed out sparks.
Only in believing fingers, in paper’s preserved sheet
the fires must kneel. They are powerless against it.
So I know: the dove is paper which keeps all fingers from freezing,
words, like grandchildren, must remember those who coerced.
Dove-less, days are mere mites. Praise to all pure forms!
I collect silver syllables to bring my dear dove and feed her.