by Osip Mandelstam
A young Levite among priests,
He remained long on morning watch.
Jewish night grew thick around him,
The ruined temple was solemnly being raised.
He said: the yellow of the skies is alarming.
Run, priests, for night is already over the Euphrates!
But the elders thought: this is not our fault;
Behold the black and yellow light, the joy, the Jews.
He was with us when, on the stream's shore,
We swaddled the sabbath in precious linen
With a heavy menorah lit the night of Jerusalem,
The heady fumes of non-existence.
Last updated January 14, 2019