Dan Pagis (1930-1986) was an Israeli poet, lecturer and a holocaust survivor. He was born in Bokavina and raised in Viena Austria. In 1947 he came to Israel, in a special program for the youth that survived the concentration camps.
He studied at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and earned his PhD from there. Later he started teaching at the same university. His first published book of poetry was ‘ Sheon ha Tsel’ or ‘The shadow clock’ in 1959. In 1970 he published his major work titled ‘Gilgul’ or revolution.
Pagis knew many languages and translated many works of literature. In 1986, he died due to cancer.
In the following poem, Dan Pagis combines Hebrew words and creates new words. These few combinations do not appear in the English translation.
I am a very exclusive cold green.
What do I care
About all these accidental greenish hues?
I am the creator of green,
I am the priceless green, no doubt.
The most suspicious glitter,
Cutting the cat’s eye
In a knifelike moment,
Yearns to be me.
What is between you and me,
What do I care about the verdant vivid grass. I am alien and clear amongst you all.
I am cold, dicing with my eternities
Neron Caesar, artist of lights,
Lifts me to his reddish eyes,
Only my green hushes his blood
Through me he is watching the ashes of his world.
Slander ! No. I do not envy
The diamond : An hasty, privileged Duke
That can not control his temper:
But I am calm, know how to wait
And pour, precise and green, the poison.
As if I enjoyed a secret. A touch of blue,
A crimson hint in the polished facet
An hesitating purple –
None. None. I am the creator of green,
Abolish all rainbow ’s hues.
You envisage your image
In vain. I will leave you no memory ,
You have never been part of me.
A mirror against a mirror against an enchanted mirror
I reflect in myself
With one shake of my hand
I shatter your day into a dozen
I am all eye. Awake I will stay.
Well, I wear faces,
Twelve allegedly lucent faces.
Flickers of light
Are the core of my soul – I have no fear.
I shall not die.
I shall not die, I seek no compromise.
You will never reveal the secret of my strength
I am I – a crystal of carbonate
With a tint of Chromium.