Haim Gouri: Odysseus (from Hebrew)

By Haim Gouri
Translated by Me

Click here to hear me reciting this poem in Hebrew.

And returning to his native town he found a sea
And sundry fish and grass afloat on slowed waves
And sun washed up on the farthest edge of sky.

All error keeps recurring, said Odysseus within his tired heart,
Returning to the crossroads near the neighboring town
To seek out the current road to his birthplace that was not the sea.

A wanderer as fatigued as a dreamer, and full of yearning
Among a people who now spoke a different Greek:
The words he took as provisions on his trek expired.

For a moment, he thought he slept away a lifetime full of days
And had returned to a people who were not shocked at seeing him,
Who did not stare wide-eyed.

He mouthed with signs and gestures and they tried to understand him
From across the distance.
Purple turned violet on the edge of the selfsame sky.

The adults arose and gathered up the children who stood around him in a circle
And whisked them hurriedly away to house after house.
And light after light grew yellow inside.

Dew came and fell unto his head.
Winds came and kissed his lips.
Waters came and bathed his feet like Eurycleia
And did not see the scar. And water
Flowed onward down the slope, as is the way of the tide.


וּבְשׁוּבוֹ אֶל עִיר מולַדְתוֹ מָצָא יָם
וְדָגִים שׁוֹנִים וְעֵשֶב צָף עַל הַגַּלִים אִטִיִים
.וְשֶׁמֶש נֶחְלֶשֶת בְּשׁוּלֵי שָמַיִם

טָעוּת לְעוֹלָם חוֹזֶרֶת, אָמַר אוֹדִיסֵס בְּלִבּוֹ הֶעָיֵף
וְחָזַר עַד פָּרָשַת – הַּדְרָכִים הַסְּמוּכָה לָעִיר הַשְּכֵנָה
.לִמְצֹא אֶת הַדֶּרֶך אֶל עִיר מוֹלַדְתוֹ שֶלֹא הַיְתָה מַיִם

הָלַך עָיֵף כְּחוֹלֵם וּמִתְגַעְגֵעַ מְאֹד
.בֵּין אֲנָשִים שֶדִּבְּרוּ יוַנִית אַחֶרֶת
.הַמִּלִים שֶנָּטַל עִמוֹ כְּצֵידָה לְדֶרֶך הַמַּסָעוֹת, גָוְעוּ בֵּינְתַיִם

רֶגַע חָשַב כִּי נִרְדַם לְיָמִים רַבִּים
וְחָזַר אֶל אֲנָשִים שֶלֹא תָּמְהוּ בִּרְאוֹתָם אוֹתוֹ
.וְלֹא קָרְעוּ עֵינַיִם

הוּא שָאַל אוֹתָם בִּתְנוּעוֹת וְהֵם נִסוּ לְהַבִין אוֹתוׁ
.מִתֹּוך הַמֶּרְחַקִּים
.הָאַרְגמָן הִסְגִיל וְהָלַך בְּשוּלֵי אוֹתָם שָמַיִם

קָמוּ הַמְּבוּגָרִים וְנָטְלוּ אֶת הַיְּלָדִים שֶעָמְדוּ סְבִיבוֹ בְּמַעְגָל
.וּמָשְכוּ אוֹתָם
.וְאוֹר אַחַר אוֹר הִצְהִיב בְּבַיִת אַחַר בַּית

.בָּא טַל וְיָרַד עַל רֹאשוֹ
.בָּאָה רוּחַ וְנָשְקָה לִשְׂפָתָיו
.בָּאוּ מַיִם וְשָׁטְפוּ רַגְלָיו כְּאֶבְרִקְלִיָה הַזְּקֵנָה

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