"A Letter to My Mother"
- Written by:
- Mordecai Kosover
- Translated by:
- Ruth Solomon
- Spring 2019
- Part of issue number:
- Translation 2019
My father, Mordecai Kosover, of blessed memory, who died in 1969, was a dedicated professor of Hebrew and Arabic and a Yiddish writer. It is only in the past several years that I have become deeply involved with his writings and research that resides in the archival collections of the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City.
It has been both an emotional and intellectual pursuit on my part. There were hundreds of letters and articles in so many boxes. The most interesting correspondence has been from great writers such as Jacob Glatstein, Yitzchak Rivkin, Abraham Sutzkever, Max Weinreich, and others. The most emotional letters and poetry are of my father’s personal correspondence to different family members. It is from these that I have connected so personally with my father, and it has been a blessing.
One such poem is “A Letter to My Mother,” written in Yiddish in his own hand. This poem relates to earlier poems that he wrote at age 13 as a result of the untimely death of his mother, Feyge, which is my middle name. He wrote numerous poems on a variety of subjects, all of which were dedicated to his “holy” mother. One still feels his yearning and loneliness for his mother so many years later in “A Letter to My Mother.” I think the young woman mentioned at the end of the poem is probably my mother, Judith, whom he married in Palestine in 1934.
Still a dreamer, dissatisfied—I have already circled the sun, Mother, about thirty times.
A young man of marriageable age, yet still your faraway son,
And until today—still a child, a thirsty dreamer
A young man of marriageable age and still a child as in the past.
You surely remember, Mother, how many years ago I would run away deep into the forest,
solitary, wild, spending days dreaming about freedom and good fortune — — —
You saw the burning in my childish eyes,
You would become angry and mildly rebuke me.
So am I still now—far from home and far from you . . .
Gone is the fast-flowing spring, the old forest near the shore.
Yet still, I remain unsettled, the wild child within . . .
Not you—a young woman already caresses my somber head—
And I am still the same as in those childhood days.
May 13, 1932, Palestine
RUTHIE SOLOMON has taught Yiddish in various communities: after teaching Yiddish summer seminars in Ukraine, she began teaching Yiddish in the New York area. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Jewish literature and is a retired social worker, MSW, LCSW. She and her husband, Sidney, have much nakhes from their grandchildren and great grandchildren.