Your toys, my child, hold them dear,
your toys smaller even than you.
And at night, when the fire drifts off to sleep, —
wrap them up in the stars from atop a tree.
Let the golden pony graze
the foggy sweetness of the grass.
And dress your little boy in his galoshes
when the eagle of the sea hurls a gust.
And put a Panama hat on your doll,
and give her a little bell to hold.
For not one of them has a mother,
and they cry out to God by the wall.
Love them, your little princesses,
I remember such a day– woe is me and alack–:
Seven streets and all filled with dolls
and the city had not one child.
Abraham Sutzkever, born in 1913 in modern-day Belarus, is a legendary figure of the Yiddish literary world. A survivor of the Vilna Ghetto, he immigrated to Mandate Palestine just before the founding of the State of Israel and passed away in Tel Aviv in 2010, at the age of 96.
Maia Evrona’s poems, as well as excerpts from her memoir on chronic illness, have appeared in Prairie Schooner, New South, and elsewhere. More of her Abraham Sutzkever translations have appeared in Poetry Magazine, The Kenyon Review Online and other venues. She is the recipient of an NEA fellowship for her translations of Sutzkever. Her website is www.maiaevrona.com