Upon the Slaughter

Hayyim Nahman Bialik 1923.jpgBialik, Haim Nahman (1873-1934)

“…in 1903, the Kishinev pogroms deeply
shocked the whole civilized world. After interviewing survivors of the
atrocity, Bialik wrote “Al ha- Shehitah” (“On the Slaughter,” 1903) in which he calls on heaven either to exercise immediate justice and, if not, to destroy the world, spurning mere vengeance with the famous lines:

Cursed is he who says ‘Revenge!’
Vengeance for the blood of a small child 
Satan has not yet created. 


 Upon the Slaughter  Heavenly spheres, beg mercy for me! If truly G-d dwells in your orbit and
round, And in your space is His pathway that I have not found,– Then you
pray for me! For my own heart is dead; no prayer on my tongue; And
strength has failed, and hope has passed:
O until when? For how much more?

How long? Ho, headsman, bare the neck–come, cleave it through! Nape me
this cur’s nape! Yours is the axe unbaffled! The whole wide world-my
scaffold! And rest you easy: we are weak and few. My blood is outlaw.  
Strike, then; the skull dissever! Let blood of babe and graybeard stain
your garb– Stain to endure forever! If Right there be,–why, let it shine
forth now! For if when I have perished from the earth The Right shine
forth, Then let its Throne be shattered, and laid low! Then let the heavens,
wrong-racked, be no more!  While you, O murderers, on you murder thrive,
Live on your blood, regurgitate this gore! Who cries Revenge! Revenge!  
–accursed be he! Fit vengeance for the spilt blood of a child The devil
has not yet compiled… No, let that blood pierce world’s profundity,
Through the great deep pursue its mordications, There east its way in
darkness, there undo, Undo the rotted earth’s foundations!

–Haim Nahman Bialik      Translation: T. Carmi

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