The Silver Platter

The Silver Platter / Natan Alterman

Translated to English by David P. Stern


“…And the land will grow still

Crimson skies dimming, misting

Slowly paling again

Over smoking frontiers


As the nation stands up

Torn at heart but existing

To receive its first wonder

In two thousand years


As the moment draws near

It will rise, darkness facing

Stand straight in the moonlight

In terror and joy


…When across from it step out

Towards it slowly pacing

In plain sight of all

A young girl and a boy


Dressed in battle gear, dirty

Shoes heavy with grime

On the path they will climb up

While their lips remain sealed


To change garb, to wipe brow

They have not yet found time

Still bone weary from days

And from nights in the field


Full of endless fatigue

And all drained of emotion

Yet the dew of their youth

Is still seen on their head


Thus like statues they stand

Stiff and still with no motion

And no sign that will show

If they live or are dead


Then a nation in tears

And amazed at this matter

Will ask: who are you?

And the two will then say


With soft voice: We–

Are the silver platter

On which the Jews’ state

Was presented today


Then they fall back in darkness

As the dazed nation looks

And the rest can be found

In the history books.”

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