Sunday of Suburban Houses

Translated by:
Anastasiya Lyubas
Spring 2018
Part of issue number:
Translation 2018

Dvoyre Fogel’s poems from the collection Day Figures collection (1930) provide examples of cubist-constructivist experimentation in a language that is at once lyrical and philosophical. Aaron Glanz-Leyeles, an introspectivist poet, called Day Figures “the ultimate modern book . . . proving that Lviv is very close to New York.” The poem “Sunday of Suburban Houses” is striking in its immobility. People who might appear similar to golem figures sit around in the same way as the wheels of a car in a repair shop. The golems and the wheels exemplify the machinic/organic dichotomy in Fogel’s work. Fogel was interested in what she called the biological tendency in life, as well as the machinelike pace of modernity that transformed different aspects of human life. Another tension that is at work here is stasis versus dynamism. Fogel called her poetry the “lyric of cool stasis.” For her, stasis was a condensation of the polyphony and colorfulness of life, intricately connected to life’s dynamism.

Sunday of Suburban Houses

Before the lime-green car-repair workshop

1 red wheel is on the ground

and a yellow car with 3 red wheels.

Before the yellow house, the first and second gray houses

three, four, five lumps of yellow clay with glassy eyes

sit the whole seventh day

wheels have nowhere to go:

and no car drives in, no car drives out

of the windowless red garage-house.

But Monday at 6 in the morning

the green repair shop, the red garage,

gray houses, cars with 4 wheels and clay lumps with feet

move a few yards farther away

The sphere of space is large again:

it can take in houses, cars, bodies.

זונטיק פֿון פֿאָרשטאָט־הײַזער

פֿאַר דער קאַלעכגרינער װאָגן־רעפּאַראַטור־װערקשטאָט

ליגט 1 רױט ראָד

און אַ געלער װאָגן מיט 3 רױטע רעדער.

פֿאַר אַ געלן הױז, פֿאַר דעם ערשטן און צװײטן גראָען הױז

זיצן דעם גאַנצן זיבעטן טאָג לאַנג׃

דרײ, פֿיר, פֿינף קלומפּן פֿון געלן טײג מיט גלאָז־אױגן.

רעדער, װאָס האָבן נישט װוּהין צו גײן׃

און קײן װאָגן פֿאָרט נישט אַרײַן, קײנער אַרױס

אין דעם רױטן גאַראַזש־הױז אָן פֿענסטער.

אָבער מאָנטיק 6 אַ זײגער פֿרי

גײען װײַטער אין דער װײַטקײט פֿון עטלעכע מעטער׃

דער גרינער רעפּאַראַטור־לאָדן, דער רױטער גאַראַזש,

גראָע הײַזער, װאַגן מיט 4 רעדער און קלומפּן טײג מיט פֿיס.

װידער איז גרױס די חלל־קױל׃

קאָן אױפֿנעמען הײַזער, װאַגען, לײַבער. 

DVOYRE FOGEL (1900–1942) was a Polish-Jewish writer, philosopher, art critic, and translator. She was a “wandering star” of Polish and Yiddish modernisms in Eastern Europe and North America, her writing inviting comparisons to Gertrude Stein’s in its striking originality. She lived in Lwów, was educated in Vienna and Kraków, and traveled extensively in Paris, Berlin, and Stockholm, which is reflected in her work. A friend of Bruno Schulz’s, she was an extraordinary figure, crossing physical, aesthetic, national, linguistic, and cultural borders. Given Fogel’s engagement with visual arts and avant-garde movements, her highly experimental texts challenged every notion of writing in Yiddish in her own lifetime.

ANASTASIYA LYUBAS is a PhD student in the Department of Comparative Literature at Binghamton University, where she is currently at work on her dissertation “Language and Plasticity in Debora Vogel [Dvoyre Fogel]’s Poetics.” She earned her MA in translation studies at Binghamton in 2014 with the help of a Fulbright grant. Lyubas was a 2017 translation fellow at the Yiddish Book Center and a Max Weinreich research fellow at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York. She conducted archival research at YIVO to uncover Fogel’s work and hopes to make this author’s writings available to a larger readership. Her translations of Dvoyre Fogel’s prose appeared in the 2017 Pakn Treger Translation Issue. She is working on a full collection of Fogel’s essays, reviews, polemics, and correspondence, which she translated from Yiddish and Polish into Ukrainian; it will be published by the press Dukh I Litera in Kyiv, Ukraine.