Saturday, November 03, 2007

521. How Did A Flag - Yehuda Amichai

Translated from the Hebrew by Yehuda Amichai and Ted Hughes

How did a flag come into being?
Let's assume that in the beginning
there was something whole, which was
then torn into two pieces, both big enough
for two battling armies.
Or like the ragged striped fabric
of a beach chair in an abandoned
little garden of my childhood,
flapping in the wind. This
too could be a flag making you arise
to follow it or to weep at its side,
to betray it or to forget.

I don't know. In my wars
no flag-bearer marched in front
of the grey soldiers in clouds of dust and smoke.
I've seen things starting as spring,
ending up with hasty retreat
in pale dunes.
I'm far away from all that, like one
who in the middle of a bridge
forgets both its ends
and remains standing there
bent over the railing
to look down into the streaming water:
This too is a flag.

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