When I heard Rachel Tzvia Back speak at the Stronach lecture in May, she mentioned the poems of Tuvia Ruebner, a Slovenian born in 1924, who emigrated to Israel in 1941, escaping the holocaust in which most of his family perished. He writes in Hebrew, and Back has translated much of his work. Here are a few short poems that illustrate his style:
How the sun couples with a cloud!
How the wind shifts the shapes of the trees!
There’s the fragrance of rain in the air!
Oh, all this joy!
Even after me.
How many years can one
Maintain one’s balance on
the edge of the abyss?
If you imagine not
existing (can you? and actually, what for?) not
feeling persecuted, not being afraid, not
being alone, not
feeling jealousy, memory not
being tied to pain, not
thinking about what’s been lost, not
thinking at all, not good things not
bad, not pondering mistakes you’ve made, not
failures, not wrong decisions and not
thinking again and again on the shamelessness, not
losing your mind because of an injustice or wrongdoing, not
wanting, not wanting a thing, not
desiring, not feeling lack of any sort–or then
(just imagine) the nothing may be
a pleasant place to rest or not