Page 19 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 32

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F IS CH / POETRY OF SHIN SHALOM
11
For you, O Jerusalem, have reawakened
My longing which does not fade.
The world about sees only with the eye.
Bu t you perceive the sorrow of the heart.
At other times, it seems to him tha t the re tu rn to his ancient
origins is a return to the grave, to death itself:
I go to myself, to an ancient land,
I return to my past that is dead.
I understand that all is in slumber,
Yet I know that all is truth.
Somewhere they pu t my body in a grave.
Dust covered me and bones of the dead.
Yet my longings tell me, “Great is the hope,
I am ascending the Olive slope.”
In the most horrifying episode of all, the narrator appears as
a grave-digger on the Mount of Olives, burying the pioneers, the
Talmud students, the prophets, those torn by holy joy. All the
lovers and seekers of Zion are descending into the grave. And
he, too, the grave-digger, is maddened, doomed by the same frus­
trated search:
W ith hidden scorn the passersby stare
A t my torn garments and my bedraggled beard.
Once I had a beloved, her name was Zion.
Endlessly I pursue her shadow through the streets.
He finally hides, like Elijah, in a cave, and a pious woman
brings him his daily bread. Finally, in his wanderings, he ap­
proaches the open window of a hospital and sees the shrouded
figure of a woman. I t is the object of his search—“I t is she”—the
beloved who, alone, could have assuaged his intolerable
loneliness:
I t is not good for man to be alone.
Dread strangles—how long can I be silent?
I sink in the abyss and stretch my hand out to you.
At first he recognizes in the dead figure the woman with whom,
in his travels, he had vainly sought comfort and intimacy. But he
finally identifies her with the ultimate object of all his tormented