Quaker Universalist Conversations

A poem by Abraham Chalfi

From the Harvard Divinity Bulletin

I’ll Dress You in Silken Wings

Mozambique Orphans, by Elektra Noelani Grey (10/6/2005) I’ll dress you in silken wings
Coloured perhaps bird-green
And perhaps a legendary crimson
And you’d be so beautiful
Children of man.

Laugh lots, children,
Crystal, crystal-
Till the liberation of spring bursts
The sad Jewish autumn.

I’ll call your mother
My little angels
To return from wherever she’s gone
And she’ll reign with you
Like before
When she was the Queen.

And they’ll hear your laughter from afar
And you won’t be
You will not be
Orphaned.

by Abraham Chalfi,
translated from the Hebrew by Atar Hadari


Image Source & Notes

Image: “Mozambique orphans,” by Elektra Noelani Grey (10/6/2005) [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)].

This poem is from Three Poems in the Autumn/Winter 2018 (Vol. 46, Nos. 3&4) issue of Harvard Divinity Bulletin.

Abraham Chalfi (1904–1980) was born in Lodz, Poland, and arrived in Israel in 1924 to work in agriculture, construction, and road building. He joined the worker’s theater, Ohel in 1925 and became a member of the Tel Aviv Cameri municipal theater in 1953. He published the first of several volumes of poetry in 1933. Many of his poems were set to music and became chart hits.

Atar Hadari’s Songs from Bialik: Selected Poems of Hayim Nahman Bialik (Syracuse University Press, 2000) was a finalist for the American Literary Translators’ Association Award. His Pen Translates award-winning “Lives of the Dead: Collected Poems of Hanoch Levin??? appeared in 2018 from Arc Publications.

The HDB editors write:

Especially when conflict in public arenas so often involves religion, the editors of the Bulletin believe it is important to open out the way we interpret, and reflect, Harvard Divinity School’s mission—preparing future scholars, ministers, and leaders across the professions according to a common intellectual rigor and with an emphasis on religious pluralism.

We believe that this publication should be a broadly accessible, and broadly participated in, forum on questions of worldwide concern, with the School as its bedrock. Our goal is not to temper opinions to reach agreement, but to nurture a place where critical reflection can take place and meaningful ideas can be exchanged. We also hope the Bulletin is a joy and inspiration to read.

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