Dawn to dusk, your hands and eyes
Bent over sewing -- girl, don't cry.
Tomorrow it shall come to pass;
Your worries will die like poisoned mice.
In that day, in iron and stone,
Men will roar like bears, while women,
Old men, and babies at the breast
Chase down robbers and arsonists.
My girl--what a fire! your beloved is coming
to carry you off, on bird wings.
This lyric is as ambiguous as a prophesy. Irony, violent and peaceful images, anger, and a bitter joy are at war in it, yet it is perfectly balanced.
I recently found a book (in English) by the Yiddish poet, Moyshe-Leyb Halpern (1886-1932), called _In New-York_. He wrote about New York in the time of immigration, neon, the El and its noise and grit, poverty, ragtime, the heat of August sticking to the body at manual labor. An immigrant, Halpern contrasts the small Polish town and the Lower East Side with images as powerful as Pound's, and as brief.
But he also writes a night dream that surrounds the entire history of his people, and his relatives, with the personal mystery of his own existence "A Night." Read More