A poem from the recently published To Sing Away the Darkest Days: Poems Re-imagined from Yiddish Folksongs (Holland Park Press), a new poetry collection from Norbert Hirschhorn:
Nu, Einstein, with your ferret’s brain,
come sit at our Rebbe’s table and learn
a thing or two. So you made a rocket
to shoot at the stars? Which makes you
a wonder? Ha! Our Rebbe opens his
umbrella and he’s dancing on Mars.
You discovered relativity? Our Rebbe can fly
faster than light to greet the shabbos bride
from the previous night, returns looking younger.
Don’t beat the kettle about your Big Bang!
Who do you think was virtually there when G‑d,
Master of the Universe, created time, heaven, earth!
And when the moshiyekh, the Anointed One,
comes to rebuild our Temple, our Rebbe will be
alongside – sanctifying, cantillating, praying.
© Norbert Hirschhorn 2013
From Norbert Hirschhorn’s poetry collection To Sing Away the Darkest Days: Poems Re-imagined from Yiddish Folksongs, published by Holland Park Press
To Sing Away the Darkest Days is the culmination of a five-year project which saw Norbert Hirschhorn source more than one thousand Yiddish songs. The songs helped Norbert to rediscover and trace his own Jewish cultural history. However, some of the songs ‘spoke’ to him as a poet and begged for a new translation, or ‘re-imagining’ as he calls it, into English poems. The resulting collection tells the story of the emigrant, the Jew in the Diaspora.Norbert Hirschhorn is a physician specializing in international public health, commended in 1993 by President Bill Clinton as an ‘American Health Hero.’ His poems have been published in over three dozen journals and won a number of prizes in the US and UK. To Sing Away the Darkest Days is his fourth full collection.