Thursday, May 21, 2009

An Old Song

In the blossom-land Japan
Somewhere, thus an old song ran:Said a warrior to a smith,
"Hammer me a sword forthwith.
Make the blade
Light as wind on water laid;
Make it long
As wheat at harvest song,
Supple, swift
As a snake, without rift,
Full of lightnings, thousand-eyed!
Smooth as silken cloth & thin
As the web that spiders spin,
And merciless as pain & cold."

"On the hilt what shall be told?"

"On the sword's hilt, my good man,"
Said the warrior of Japan,
"Trace for me
A running lake, a flock of sheep,
And one who sings her child to sleep."Yehoash (Solomon Bloomgarden)


mike said...

Great poetry!!! With those last five lines, you cannot call it a war poem.

My first thought was that this hardly seems to come from the pen of a Yiddish poet and bible translator. But reading it again it does kind of have a ring of the old testament about it.

FDChief said...

I've always loved this little poem. It's the only thing I know by this author, who I have heard described as "the greatest Yiddish poet", which seems like a very exclusive group.

But a very evocative piece, whatever the source...