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Saul Tchernichovsky

Shaul Tchernichovsky (1875 – 1943), also known as Shaul Tchernichowsky, was a Russian-born Jew who wrote poetry in Hebrew. He was also an accomplished translator. During the first World War, he served as a doctor in the Russian army. In 1931 he immigrated to Palestine and settled there permanently. He died in Jerusalem on October 14, 1943, around the time that the horrors of the Holocaust were becoming more fully known.

Credo
by Saul Tchernichovsky
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Laugh at all my silly dreams!
Laugh, and I’ll repeat anew
that I still believe in man,
just as I believe in you.

By the passion of man’s spirit
ancient bonds are being shed:
for his heart desires freedom
as the body does its bread.

My noble soul cannot be led
to the golden calf of scorn,
for I still believe in man,
as every child is human-born.

Life and love and energy
in our hearts will surge and beat,
till our hopes bring forth a heaven
from the earth beneath our feet.

The Hawk
by Saul Tchernichovsky
translated by A.Z. Foreman

Hawk! A hawk atop your hills! A hawk atop your hills on high:
Light and slow—as though one moment it were merely floating by,
Floating, sailing seas of azure, wakened to the hymned delight
From the heart of sky and heaven—circling mute in searing light.
Hawk! A hawk atop your hills! A hawk atop your hills on high:
Sleek the body, black the feathers, broad the wings and bright the eye,
Soaring like a bowshot arrow, rounding out its careful gyre
Tracking trails of prey below between the crags and through the briar.
Hawk! A hawk atop your hills! A hawk atop your hills on high:
Gliding wide with wondrous touch, with wings locked back against the sky,
Frozen for a moment, then a single pinion barely sways.
Now the slightest palpitation, and it surges toward the haze.
Hawk! A hawk atop your hills! A hawk atop your hills on high:
Light and slow—as though one moment it were merely floating by,
Land, a hawk's atop your hills! Across your face massed shadow glides
From the giant's wing caressing God's almighty mountainsides.

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