This is a banner year for Lea Goldberg, who died in 1970 and would be one hundred years old today. Goldberg, one of the classic Israeli poets of the modern era, is well known to English readers through the work of many different translators. With This Night, Annie Kantar’s new volume of translations is a welcome addition to the array of Goldberg translations, especially because this is the final collection of Goldberg’s poems published while she was alive, and thus less familiar than some of her other poems. These poems are full of enticing contrasts: night and morning, sea and land, youth and age, there and here. In these juxtapositions there is a sense of being on the edges, or constantly in transition, in a state of in between. In “Songs of the Strange Woman” she writes, “I’m from there — /the village of small winds…” and continues in the second section of the poem, “…on what shore did the gulls call/the name of my dead country?” She places herself ever on the margins — an integral part of Israel and yet always “from there,” about to start a new day, and yet still in the night that precedes the coming day. At the same time there is a sense of rich maturity, an arch to the poems that hints at the poet’s stage in life, a clarity of vision developed over many years of experiences. Kantar’s translation captures the chiseled clarity of Goldberg’s Hebrew as she evokes the starkness of the poet’s Israel. These translations echo Goldberg’s deceptive simplicity while managing to convey the depth of her images and intensity of her language.
With This Night
Hara E. Person was ordained by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. She is a writer and editor.
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