Creation on the Bottom of the Sea

Abraham Sutzkever

Translated from Yiddish by Maia Evrona

Creation on the bottom of the sea, without sun, without rays of light,
walking vegetation in an other-worldly landscape,
coral Towers of Babel, birth of death and life,
divine whims, it’s high time we got acquainted.

It’s high time we hurried out of the circus with its clowns, trapezes,
to here, where the pearl still rules in its glory.
It’s high time we snatched the secrets out of the darkness
where sweet little hearts of slime beat in the sea’s laboratory.

It’s high time we drank wine with long drowned sailors
in the water-tavern on the bottom of the sea, in a ship’s cabin,
and heard them tell of pirates, albatrosses, and loves that have gone on
for longer than a thousand years and still have not grown calm.

Every sound of brass and wood and string wants to be made free,
the human language is imprisoned in heavy cages.
Its high time we paid attention and glimpsed though a cranny
how mute stillness learns the alphabet of silence.

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