I was born in 1924. If I were a violin my age
I wouldn’t be very good. As a wine I would be splendid
Or altogether sour. As a dog I would be dead. As a book
I would begin to be expensive or thrown out by now.
As a forest I would be young, as a machine ridiculous,
And as a human being I’m very tired.
I was born in 1924. When I think about humanity
I think just about those born in my year.
Their mothers gave birth with my mother,
Wherever they were, in hospitals or in dark flats.
On this day, my birthday, I would like
To say a great prayer for you,
Whose load of hopes and disappointments
Pulls your life downward,
Whose deeds diminish
And whose gods increase,
You are all brothers of my hope and companions of my despair.
May you find the right rest,
The living in their life, the dead in their death.
He who remembers his childhood better
Than others is the winner,
If there are any winners at all.