Hour of Grace

5 06 2007

[trans. from שעת החסד, by Yehuda Amihai]

I have thought at times that all could be explained:
Like people, midnight, gathered at the station,
For the final bus that will not come;
At first they’re few though soon they grow and grow.
An invitation, this, to be more close together
To change it all and to commence, together, a new world.

But they are separated.
(The hour of grace has passed and shan’t return)
Each one goes his own way
Each one becomes again a domino:
One side of him is open,
To finding new connections
In games that never end.

פעם חשבתי שאפשר לפתר כך
כמו אנשים שמתאספים בחצות בתחנה
לאוטובוס האחרון שלא יבוא
בתחלה מעטים, אחר כך עוד ועוד
זו היתה הזדמנות להיות קרובים זה לזה
ולשנות הכל ולהתחיל יחדו עולם חדש

אך הם מתפזרים
שעת החסד עברה ולא תשוב
כל אחד ילך לדרכו
כל אחד יהיה שוב אבן דומינו
עם צד אחד פתוח
למצא לו תואם חדש
במשחקים שאין להם סוף




3 responses

12 06 2007

Nice one, bruvva.
Though תואם חדש, possibly “a new match” rather than “new connections”?

12 06 2007
Simon Holloway

Thanks for that. I actually wasn’t familiar with the word תואם and, after looking it up, was trying to find something that could imply both an interpersonal relationship as well as the sort of “match”ing up that you do with dominos (which I’m assuming was the intention in the Hebrew).

7 07 2007
John Hobbins

תואם in the sense of ‘twin’ (whence the name Thomas) was my first guess, but תואם vocalized as an abstract noun can mean ‘harmony,’ according to my pocket ben-Yehuda.

That fits the context better, I think.

The poem is very beautiful and very sad. If I believed it true one hundred per cent, I couldn’t do what I do (think and feel after the manner of second Isaiah, that the hour of grace is, despite everything, offered to us). In a sense I consider it to be true 99 per cent, but choose to hold to the one per cent that suggests otherwise.

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