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ABRAHAM BECOMES HUMAN (poem) - Ory Bernstein - Israel - Poetry International

 
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אברהם נעשה אנושי
לֹא הִבְטַחְתְּ לִי דָּבָר שׁוֹנֶה.

לֹא פִּתִּית אוֹתִי בְּדָבָר.

גַּם כְּשֶׁיָּצָאתִי לִפְנֵי הַמַּחֲנֶה,
וְגַם כְּשֶׁהַמַּחֲנֶה עָבַר.

יֶלֶד אֶחָד שָׁלַחְתִּי לָמוּת,

וְאֶחָד נִסִּיתִי לַעֲקֹד.

וְשָׁמַרְתִּי עַל תְּמִימוּת 

שֶׁלֹּא תְּסַיַּע לִי עוֹד.

וּכְשֶׁכָּל הַנְּבוּאוֹת מִתְקַיְּמוֹת –

וְתָמִיד מִתְקַיְּמוֹת לְרַע –  

עֵינַי אֵלֶיךָ מוּרָמוֹת 

בִּתְחִנָּה, כְּעֵינֵי פָּרָה.

רְאֵה אוֹתִי בְּעָנְיִי, רְאֵה

אוֹתִי כְּשֶׁיָּמַי נִסְפְּרוּ.

הָיִיתִי, כִּכְלוֹת הַכֹּל,
רַק מִקְרֶה 
שֶׁסְּבִיבוֹ הַדְּבָרִים קָרוּ.
 
ABRAHAM BECOMES HUMAN
You didn’t promise me anything.
You didn’t tempt me.
Not when I went out ahead of the army
and not when it passed by.

I sent one son to die,
and the other I tried to sacrifice.
I maintained an innocence
no longer useful.

When all the prophecies come to pass -
and they always do, for evil  -
my eyes will lift toward you
at the camp, like the eyes of a cow.

Behold me in my affliction, look 
as my days are numbered.
I was, after all, just an instance
around which things happened.


 
 
 
 

Translator's Note: This poem is perhaps uncharacteristic of Bernstein in containing many biblical threads. “You” in the first two lines is marked feminine and may apply to Abraham’s wife Sarah (mother of his son Isaac) or the servant, Hagar (mother of his son Ishmael). Ishmael is the one sent away, where he may die, and Isaac bound to an altar to be sacrificed (but saved from death at the last moment). “Went out ahead of the army” combines a story of Abraham leading his retainers in a rescue operation (Genesis 14:14) and a wording used in a story that takes place before the parting of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:19). “Affliction” has a biblical tone in Hebrew and in translation. But the speaker in this poem denies all such significance.