Sunday, November 06, 2016

6 Poems of Rav Menachem Froman

I bought a book of his poetry the day I left Israel this summer. He has struck me.  At the same time that I've been working on the poems I've been learning through the new sefer of selections from shiurim and interviews, which affects me strongly in different ways each time I read from it.  i am comforted and impressed and inspired and so much more.  He was truly one of a kind, someone who didn't do something better than others, rather did something that no other could do.

One of his statement from the book that went right into me and has stayed with me is the following: Poor Iyov, he lost his health, his wealth, his family - everything.  And then Chazal come along and say he never existed.  That's the hardest blow of all, to have it said of you that your life did not happen. (I've paraphrased this from memory.)

Rav Froman lived a unique life and he continues to speak to us from beyond. I see his memory being for a blessing, and may it continue to be so.

I hope to keep, slowly, slowly processing and translating these poems. His poetic voice needs to be heard. Besides all else that he was, Rav Froman was a masterful poet.


Due Process For Madness
By Menachem Froman
(Translated by Neil Fleischmann)
It’s easy to let yourself forget
in the light of day, the way
of the madness of the night.
It comes as if self-evident,
like the light that conquers the darkness,
like the words that conquer the blank page;
they are all the same:
As much as they try not to be worn and torn
in the morning, of course, they just must
dress up so that they will be known
and make sense to others
or at least
to themselves.
Only in the middle
of the madness of the night is hidden
the wholeness
that cannot be divided,
completely yours.
This is the ancient lure
to be like G-d.


And Then
By Menachem Froman
(Translated By Neil Fleischmann)
Suddenly amidst the movement
you want to hold on to a fixed point
and just then in the middle of the confusion
you come to believe.
In the midst of the desolation
you find a fresh water spring
Amidst all this all of this.
You get up and say, "Thanks."


By Menachem Froman
(Translated By Neil Fleischmann)
I go
to cover my little daughter
go to watch over this sleeping sweetness
wanting to protect this delicate breath
so that no harm shall befall her
for all days
for always
so that nothing bad should happen to her.
My daughter is named for my mother
and she looks so much like her
when she shuts her eyes in bed
eye for eye I see
yes, I tremble
her time of death.


Eilu HaDevarim - These Are The Things
By Menachem Froman
(Translated by Neil Fleischmann)
Don't let things seduce you
Don't let things
Don't let books make you
Not books
Nor for experiences to force you
Not even poems


A Poem For Yom Yerushalayim: Har HaBayit Veyadeinu*
By Menachem Froman
(Translated by Neil Fleischmann)
In childhood of old there's a story we told
of two brothers who rose in the night
and tarried to carry bundles to one another, using their hands.
They went in private, so as not to embarrass.
In the place where they met, in the place where they
interlocked hands in silence
the Holy Temple was built.
Two with clean hands will ascend the mountain
One from this and one from that
At night, so as not to embarrass
They will raise their hands
In faith
Until the battle stops
and the war breaks.
When G-d returns
the Return of Zion
we will be like children
How it will surely be as once
carrying their bundles.


The Elephant In The Room :
A Love Story Between An Orthodox Woman and a Leftist Man
By Menachem Froman
(Translated By Neil Fleischmann)
In the dark
both of us
feel around him
with cleaving but without hope
I hold onto his dragged tail
and believe it is rope
grasp his large, widespread ears
and surmise them to be wings
After giving up we both conclude
that what we have
never happened at all
And it's not just
a metaphor. He is right here.
Now he gets up
huge, upon us, awesome
May he not trample us
May he not knock us over
May what we have
not end badly
lift my hands in prayer
hold him with two hands
My G-d, My G-d - maybe
he'll carry both of us on his back.


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