Page 188 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 47

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
To this land I ’ve given
My best and most beautiful years,
With song and praise, in return fo r
A patched shirt and a pair o f shoes,
Four naked peeling walls,
A table and a naked bed
As naked as the loneliness that dwells with me
Israel’s Yiddish poet.
(“Mayn Yidish Lid”)
“For living my kind of life, a life of want” said Papiernikov,
“Eretz Yisrael is the best country. Its climate is good for it. Eretz
Yisrael is an easy land for poverty. One could open a school
here to teach people how to live without anything.”15 For many
years Papiernikov lived in a small room on a rooftop in Tel
Aviv which became the setting for the beautiful poems of the
cycle “Poems from the Roof.”
Day came long ago.
The sun has been shining fo r quite a while.
But in my roof-home
I still lie ill,
III and alone,
Like a forgotten, abandoned stone.
And suddenly
on the edge o f my window frame: a bird
Looks about hastily,
Suddenly flies away
But returns immediately
With many more birds
Brought from trees and roofs unknown to me.
They chirp and jostle at the window,
Wanting to know who is sleeping so late.
Perhaps they already know but jus t want to see
How a Yiddish poet lives!
Perhaps, having heard that I lie here ill
With no one to pay me a call
They were sent from heaven
And have come to visit the sick . . .
Perhaps they came to prove I ’m not alone,
That my life still has meaning fo r someone,
That birds too can bring comfort
When people can’t even do that.
(“Feygl in Fenster”)
15. Quoted in J. Pat,
op. cit.,
p. 202.