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They would have reached a hero’s age by now,
And many works of agéd seers,
But for the red flood’s undertowsIt seems to me I hear,
I hear Markish’es and Fefer’s final call,
Enmeshed in rifle-fire’s coils-
A tightened noose around it all.

But, like a swallow, it tears loose from its toils
And flies up high through space and time’s infinity
To eternity.

And the final song peals forth
In the angelic words of Bergelson and Hofshteyn,
Der Nister, Kvitko, all the rest
Who paid with blood and pain
For their faith and for their zest,
For songs they knewOf the Jew.

They would have reached a hero’s age by now
Had murder not destroyed.
But see, the light endows
Their words, heroically deployed
Across length, breadth, depth, and all endeavor
For us – the people – and forever!

Translated from the Yiddish by Hershl Hartman ©1997

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