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And So Said Jerusalem (In Hebrew)

Poems and Hymns

Carmel Publishing House | 2008; The book was also published as an artist’s book in the “Jerusalem Printmaking Workshop” | 2008

By: Michal Govrin
Engravings: Orna Millo

Who’s Afraid of Jerusalem

Who’s afraid of Jerusalem?
Who loathes and despises her?
Who execrates her, heart and tongue?
Who says, What am I doing in this city of black hats
And maniacs
This city of blood and enmity
Where Hillel the Elder pursues peace
Amid the broken cups and carnage?

Who hates Jerusalem
For the love wherewith he loved her once in secret
Courtyard shadows of the vine
Twilight, jasmine blue?

How cruel is the hatred of Jerusalem
A very flame
Many waters cannot quench it.

After the terrorist attack at Café Hillel in September 2003
Translated from the Hebrew by: Betsy Rosenberg
*Translation sponsored by the “Museum On The seam”, Jerusalem

An Engravings by Orna Millo from the book

A Speckle of Fig and Jasmine

There’s Jasmine, skipping past the Old City Walls
With her satchel and her pony-tail
And a Hey, look at me!
“What eez your name?” we bandy
And I exclaim she has a pretty name
Before the morning breezes waft us on our separate ways
Me to the Sabbath, Jasmine to her doings
In the shade of a fig tree, where chickens scurry
A tourist bus wheezes up the slope and Jasmine bounces by
Like a blossoming placard for a meeting between enemies

Or brothers – in grief and blood and newborn hopes
Dashed against the rocks –
Something we forgot in our prayers, could be
That’s where we should have started from this time around
Like winter, reaching out of thirsty pods –
The way the seasons taught us.

The light of revelation is breaking
Far away, a crashing light
Charges us with words,
The sole immortals here:
“Es Stand, it stayed,
The sweetness stayed,
A speckle of fig stayed
On your lip.”

* “Es Stand”, a poem by Paul Celan, written during his only visit to Jerusalem in October 1969.
Translated from the Hebrew by: Betsy Rosenberg
** Translation sponsored by the “Museum On The seam”, Jerusalem

The inner cover of the book, Orna Millo

Like Ravished Women with Severed Tongues and Hands

In those days when the city was torn again right out of the verses of Lamentations
Not by the voices issuing from the shtebels on the eve of destruction
But by blood and corpses, and weeping of hard-faced men
And missile-fire over Bethlehem, the screaming of mothers there,
And the din of planes in the dark of night demolishing our mutual slumber

In those days when the city was puking its guts out
When blood from the altars of the Valley of Hinom flowed over Aceldama,
At dawn, pillars of smoke would raise the stench to heaven
At sunset the smell of scorching would ascend on high,
Stinking through the shattered night

Only the Minister of Hatred, raving in a trance that flickered till morn,
Floated over the suq and the men sitting
In their shop fronts, shrunken, limp,
Then swooped down on a scattering of worshippers at the Wall, and circled
Sardonically, reeking of spring
Over the hills that knew so much and still kept their counsel –
Like ravished women with severed tongues and hands.

After the terrorist attacks in Beit Yisrael and Café Moment in March of 2002
Translated from the Hebrew by: Betsy Rosenberg
*Translation sponsored by the “Museum On The seam”, Jerusalem