JHOM - Tishrei - Jonah the Reluctant Prophet

Kol Nidrei (all voes) Musical traditiosn from East to  West

The narrator in these verses by poet Gabriel Preil (American, b. Estonia; 1911-1993) wavers between emptiness and faith, escape and return, darkness and hope. Words of consolation seems as elusive as floating petals yet he embraces them, with distrust and with hope.

This poem, written in Hebrew, was translated by Gabriel Preil and David Curzon.

Jonah being thrown into the sea, woodcut
Zurich Bible, 1537

The prophet Jonah ran from his angry master
and I to my ship empty of God and man
from a certain nightness which strikes root,
from a net spread to main,
from a shadow that swallows me
like Jonah in the belly of the fish.

All the black things envisioned by the prophets,
tangible, as in a returning mirror, penetrate to me;
all words of consolation are white petals
that flutter, fragile, on over-calm waters.

I, God willing, while escaping my Master, hope to find
a minute of refuge in a season of faith and ripeness.


Barnes and Noble linkDavid Curzon, Modern Poems on the Bible: An Anthology (Philadelphia: JPS, 1994)


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