By Rosa Nevadovska, translated by Merle Bachman
“I Have Seen” reflects an important aspect of Rosa Nevadovska’s work, in which the speaker presents herself as alone in nature and privy to a kind of mystical experience.
Rosa Nevadovska (1890–1971), a poet from Białystok, immigrated to the United States in 1928. She was married briefly and gave birth to a daughter, who died at the age of two during a winter in Moscow, where the poet lived from 1914 until the end of World War I. In the United States, Nevadovska was a writer and journalist, traveling, lecturing, and residing in various cities, from New York to Venice, California. She published one volume of poems in her lifetime: Azoy vi ikh bin (As I Am; 1936). After her death, her family discovered scores of unpublished poems, which were published as Lider mayne (My Poetry; 1974). “I Have Seen” appears in this volume.
I Have Seen (איך האָב געזען)
I have seen the radiant dazzle
Of the hour before the stars ascend.
I have seen, at the height of day, its end—
And thought of beginnings and vanishings.
I have stood astonished: around me
Heavenly bodies shimmered and dimmed,
And a wind, with a light touch
Spoke to the world in a gesture of silence.
איך האָב געזען דעם שטראַליקן געבלענד
אין דער שעה פֿאַרן אױפֿשטײַג שטערן;
איך האָב געזען פֿון הױכן טאָג דעם ענד –
איך האָב געטראַכט פֿון אױפֿקום און ניט־װערן.
איך בין געשטאַנען אין פֿאַרגאַף: אַרום מיר
האָבן ליכטער זיך געמיניעט און געלאָשן,
און אַ װינט האָט מיט לײַכטן באַריר
צו דער װעלט גערעדט מיט שטום־לשון.
MERLE L. BACHMAN is a poet and associate professor of English at Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky, where she also directs the BFA in creative writing. Bachman’s efforts as a Yiddish translator began with her critical volume Recovering Yiddishland: Threshold Moments in American Literature (Syracuse UP, 2008). She was a translation fellow at the Yiddish Book Center in 2015–16, where she translated Rosa Nevadovska’s poetry.