Late fragments
by Leah Goldberg


In all we do there’s at least an eighth
of a part of death. It isn’t heavy.
What easy, secret grace we bear it with,
wherever we go. Through beautiful waking,
and walks, in lovers’ talk, and into
distraction, forgotten deep in our being—
it’s with us always. And isn’t heavy.


The young poet grows silent suddenly
afraid that he might speak the truth.

The old poet goes still, fearing
the finest poem
is the most feigning.


And the poem I didn’t write
when I wrote poems—
I remember it all,
every sound and turn of phrase.
And it won’t be written still.

If I’d written it then,
its truth would have been too bare.
And were I to write it now,
it would be pure fiction.

Come . . . come to me, Muse,
and lean your whitening
head against mine.

We’ll play with words—

how clear the world is
in this new game—

no now, no then
no truth, no fiction

the two pans of the scale
rising and falling—

a rhythm.

—translated from the Hebrew by Peter Cole

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 39 Number 8, on page 39
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