Arts & Culture
TWO POEMS by CELIA DROPKIN
A Summer Sonata I bathed in fresh, clear waters, I saw my white feet through a bright, green stream. I walked home barefoot through a thick forest, The forest breathed heavily and intoxicated me sweetly. I emerged into a wide … Read More
A Summer Sonata
I bathed in fresh, clear waters, I saw my white feet through a bright, green stream. I walked home barefoot through a thick forest, The forest breathed heavily and intoxicated me sweetly. I emerged into a wide field, The wind caressingly licked my feet. They kissed the grass, and even the bite Of a huge fly was passionately tender.
I came home full of ecstasy and love, My heart beat quickly, I breathed hotly, And everything was wonderful before my eyes, As if a great happiness would happen to me.
And when the night came on still and hot, Something sharp gnawed in me and pulled at my heart, As if someone were kissing me in the night, As if snakes were sucking me.
How have I written my poems? How have I imagined my poems? They say: The Shekhinah has descended on me, And suddenly it seems that someone is standing over me With broken wings, in the dark.
Celia Dropkin (1887-1956) was born in Bobruisk, Byelorussia, and died in New York, where she had immigrated in 1912. A wife and the mother of five children, Dropkin wrote Yiddish poems from 1917 onward, which she published in the New York Yiddish avant garde journals. Her only book of poems, In Heysn Vint (In the Hot Wind) appeared in 1935, which her children reissued posthumously as an expanded edition in 1959.
Kathryn Hellerstein teaches Yiddish at the University of Pennsylvania. Her books include a translation and study of Moyshe-Leyb Halpern’s poems, In New York: A Selection, (Jewish Publication Society, 1982), Paper Bridges: Selected Poems of Kadya Molodowsky (Wayne State University Press, 1999), and Jewish American Literature: A Norton Anthology, of which she is co-editor (W. W. Norton, 2001). She is working on Anthology of Women Yiddish Poets, to be published by Stanford University Press. Her recent poems and translations have appeared in many places, including Prairie Schooner, The Drunken Boat, Tikkun, and Four Centuries of Jewish Women’s Spirituality.
All images by Erica Gannett