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See our feature on Robert Friend

and read his poetry

and other translations

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Found in Translation:100 Years of Hebrew Poetry

Agnon's Alef Bet

Selected Poems of Leah Goldberg

Sunset Possibilities and Other Poems

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Translations by Robert Friend

from Found in Translation: A Hundred Years of Modern Hebrew Poetry Edited and introduced by Gabriel Levin. (Menard Press, London, 1999)

The spinner

by Natan Alterman

Silent the girl at the spindle
spun a scarlet thread.
She has spun me a royal mantle,
a king in his throne-room said.

Silent the girl at the spindle
spun a black midnight thread.
She has spun me a robe for the scaffold,
a thief in his dungeon said.

Silent the girl at the spindle
spun a golden thread.
She has spun me a garment to play in,
a wandering mummer said.

Silent the girl at the spindle
spun an old grey thread.
She has spun us a coat to mourn in,
a beggar and his mongrel said.

She took all the threads from the spindle
for the last robe she would spin.
Then down she went to the river
and washed her pure white skin.

And she put on the robe of her weavingó
no brighter ever was seen.
And now she is thief and beggar,
and she is mummer and queen.





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