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Autumn 2020

An Autobiography in Four Parts/Scroll Down for Original in Hebrew 

A specially commissioned translation of poetry by leading Israeli poet Dory Manor.
D

ory Manor, born in Tel Aviv, is an Israeli poet, translator and editor. He is the founder and editor of the literary magazine Oh! From 1996 to 2006 he resided in Paris, teaching Hebrew literature and translation at the INALCO University and at the Institut National de Sciences Politiques. In Israel he teaches Poetry, editing and translation at the Tel Aviv University and the Ben Gurion University of the Negev. He has edited many works by Israeli prize-winning poets and writers.

In 2007 Manor received the Prime Minister’s Prize for Hebrew Writers, and in 2008 he was awarded the Tchernichovsky Prize for best translations of world masterpieces. In 2011 he received the Ministry of Culture biannual prize for the best literary editor. In 2015 he received the prestigious Yehuda Amichai prize for his poetry. In 2017 he received his PhD in Translation Studies and Comparative Literature from INALCO University of Paris.

“We are bees for what the eye cannot see. We vigorously collect the nectar of the seen, to place in the great gold hive of the unseen.”
(Rainer Maria Rilke in a letter to his translator into Polish and personal friend Witold Hulewicz, the English translation is from the Hebrew translation by Shimon Sandbank).

1

Inside the tree’s crown

A colony of bees, thick

Dense and fluttering like a heart

Thumping in a boy’s chest –

Thick and fluttering like a heart

Golden in a parched chest

Of a giddy youth; I

Myself that boy had been.

Myself that boy had been

My chest a beehive

I knew not where to

Carry the empty waxcomb of my days.

I knew not where to

To whom, I knew not

My chest a beehive,

All my coming days buzzing

2

I carried it to chests

Closed under bolt and lock,

Carried it to bodies

Who were parched, too alien for comfort

I carried it to lashes

Around eyes which failed to notice

Eternally shut

In front of my long gaze,

I carried it to the crowns

Of trees with butchered foliage,

I carried it under

Raptorial birds’ metallic gaze,

I carried it, in the end

To what I thought of as: forever.

But my poems banged against

The forehead of mortals.

3

Despite this I lodged

It between verses;

I took evening’s gold each evening,

At dawn would hold my gaze

Looking at the sun, and without

Heeding the flame, soar

To it and merge with her

In ever-flowing wax…

4

In dying golden wax,

Wax that no longer

Flows, molten, from a boys’ chest

But from the pupil of his eye

Pure, sky-dripping,

Of an apiarist-poet

Urgently collecting from his skin

Not honey

But a secret

Blanc in color;

Words to quiet the soul,

Words to be a missing echo

A chance to ever at one time restore

That which is gone, flesh

Wanting, aged fifteen years, eternally

Drumskin taut.

Words now lacking savor

Spume

On waves

Crushing on the shore

Translated by Hagay HaCohen

 

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