Friday, June 3, 2011

Dead Apocalyptic Poets: Dan Pagis

Autobiography from ''Variable Directions''
Dan Pagis

I died with the first blow and was buried
among the rocks of the field.
The raven taught my parents
what to do with me.

If my family is famous,
not a little of the credit goes to me.
My brother invented murder,
my parents invented grief,
I invented silence.

Afterward the well-known events took place.
 Our inventions were perfected. One thing led to another,
orders were given. There were those who murdered in their own way,
grieved in their own way.

I won't mention names
out of consideration for the reader,
since at first the details horrify
though finally they're a bore:

you can die once, twice, even seven times,
but you can't die a thousand times.
I can.

My underground cells reach everywhere.
When Cain began to multiply on the face of the earth,
I began to multiply in the belly of the earth,
and my strength has long been greater than his.
His legions desert him and go over to me,
and even this is only half a revenge.

Dan Pagis was born in 1930 in Bukovina, once a part of Austria, then Rumania, now the Soviet Union. He spent three years in a concentration camp. In 1946 he immigrated to Palestine and eventually became a professor of medieval Hebrew literature. He was in his 50's when he died of cancer.
Carolyn Kizer, Necessities of Life and Death, New York Time Review of Books, 12 November 1989

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