“Hebrew and You”, A Dory Manor poem translated by Shoshana Olidort

Hebrew and You


Draw a circle around yourself
and pray seventy years
for rain that it might come
and for the melody.

The carob flower’s destiny
is to imbue its scent
in your seed and in your poem
enemy of families,

enemy of majority,
of nation and hubris
to bear the yoke of existence without poetry.


Draw a circle around yourself
and know: it is you
who will survive when all goes bad
and when not a thing remains here—
not a state, nor the memory
of a state, only your poetry
will be the dam, which will
with its music stop waters
of forgetfulness.

Chant it,
you are the dam,
know yourself.

A halo will cover everything,
resting, like a pillow
on a broken, foreign present—
but Hebrew
she will remain alive, after
all, just exactly as
she remained before they came
those who yelled about
eternity, the past, and all the rest
who sacrifice in vain.

Bandage her
and believe in her:
she is wounded now.

She is in mortal danger now,
in need of your poems,
your seeds, your words,
of that blossoming
that only you can bring forth for her
when things have settled down
when all the rest have disappeared
in this manner
or another.

Draw a circle around yourself
and pray seventy years
for rain that it might come
and for the melody.


About the translator:

Shoshana Olidort is a PhD candidate in Comparative Literature at Stanford University, and poetry editor of Mantis, Stanford’s journal of poetry, criticism and translation. Her research focuses on poetry as a mode of identity performance through a consideration of five Jewish women poets writing in Hebrew, Yiddish and English in the 20th century. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books, The Jewish Review of Books, The Paris Review, and the Times Literary Supplement, among other publications.

Read more translations on our site here.

About the author

Dory Manor born in Tel Aviv (1971), is a poet, translator and editor. He has published four collections of poetry. Hebrew translations of classic literature include works by authors such as Voltaire, Descartes, Molière, Flaubert, Baudelaire, Mallarmé, Valéry, Apollinaire, Ginsberg, Blake, Lorca, and Auden. In 2015 Manor co-edited (with Ronen Sonis) Niflaata, the first Hebrew language anthology of LGBT poetry. Manor has received numerous awards, including the Prime Minister’s Prize for Hebrew Writers, the Tchernichovsky Prize for Translation of World Masterpieces and the prestigious Yehuda Amichai prize. Founder and editor of the literary magazine Oh! (since 2005), An Honorary Fellow in Writing at the University of Iowa, USA, Manor is a knight (chevalier) in the Ordre des arts et des Lettres of France.

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