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An Empty World:"In Memory of Saint Exupery" Dahlia Ravikovitch

Dalhia Ravikovitch (1936--2005) wrote this poem in 1964. Here, like in the poem "Love",  we can her sources of inspiration.

The following is from my preface to the translations:

Ravikovitch's poetry is serious, sincere, and almost free of irony. Translating Ravikovitch, one has to maintain the urgency and intensity of a poem with no humor or irony to relieve it.

I have always admired the poetry of Dahlia Ravikovitch and been attracted to the world sje creates and that is why I decided to translate her work.

Since English is not my native language, I lack the natural feeling for the music of the English language. Music is and essential part of Ravikovitch's poetry, and although she does not use formal rhyming patterns, her poems have a distinct musical rhythm and flow. I tried to let the rhythm of the poem in Hebrew guide me in finding a similar one in the translation. To achieve this abstract goal, I chanted the poems over and over, silently and aloud, both in Hebrew and in English, repeatedly revising the English until i heard an echo of the familiar music in the translation. I hope that the native English reader can hear the music too.

I will appreciate your suggestions concerning the text and the translation.

Dahlia Ravikovitch from Hard Winter

In Memory of Saint Exupery

translated by Orna Raz


A ghastly shining moon

reminded me in the middle of the night

how in forty three died 


de Saint Exupery.


Now it has been twenty one years

and pieces of paper are flying in the wind,

and for twenty one years

the sea turns blue every spring,

now twenty one years

and all his bones have turned into sand.

Twenty one,

twenty one,

and whoever is alive today is without him.

Twenty one years ago

his plane fell into the Mediterranean sea,

shaking amidst the strong spring winds.


The world is not what it was

 weeds and wind,

wind and sand.

This surely is the the look of the world

that no longer has Saint Exupery.


People don't live forever

and we too are not forever

but was he saved that one time in March of  forty three,

he would be with us

 a shiny grain,

a rose in the wind

Laughing in the clouds.