Like fingers of prisoners, extended through bars
To grasp the elusively free open air,
We slip out to gather the plates up tonight—
The Romm printing plates with old wisdom inbred.
We dreamers now have to be soldiers and fight,
And melt into bullets the soul of the lead.
And now, once again we break open the seal,
And enter a strange but familiar dark cave.
Protected by shadows, by light of our lamps,
We pour out the letters, set verses aboil,
Recalling the feast when our ancestral camps
Laid claim to the Temple with sanctified oil.
Our wisdom from Babylon, Poland and Spain,
The streams of ideas in succession of signs
Is now in the aspect of bullets revealed
Of silvery lead from the words melted hot.
The strength of the Jews, in these letters concealed,
Must newly explode the whole world like a shot!
(Abraham Sutzkever; translated from Yiddish by Will Soll)