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This poem is taken from PN Review 223, Volume 41 Number 5, May - June 2015.

Bach in Autumn, translated by Marilyn Hacker

Translated from the French by Marilyn Hacker
Jean-Paul de Dadelsen
I

The Jews this evening, under the lindens, near the ramparts, taking care
Not to exceed the Sabbath mile, are promenading their black hats.
Brothers of Elijah and Nabaoth, peace be with you!
Last of the ancient days, Saturday stretches out in the distancing sun.
It’s the day when the earth, even beneath October’s harrow, recalls
That it once bore in its womb soaked with funereal sweetness
            The Body of the Son of Man.

In the church, women are mopping the tiles. Later
They will go home to sweep in front of their doorsteps and will fill with oil
            The lamp of the seventh day.
We are born to bear time, not to elude it,
Like a day-laborer who only leaves the vineyard at nightfall.
But on the threshold of the last night of our week, it is sweet to hear
            Sunday moving across the horizon.

Only the walnut tree is still ripening its late fruit, like our brains.
The wind that scatters its hoard of leaves in the grass and on the waters
            Will soon open that still-veiled space to us.
...


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