Nov 19, 2023
Celia Dropkin (1887−1956) was an American poet best known for her erotic and embodied verse, a fact that tends to obscure consideration of her merit as a serious poet with a wide range of influences from world literature. Her early romance with the Hebrew-language novelist Uri Gnessin is referenced in the item below. She wrote this poem for Gnessin in Russian; he translated and transformed the poem into Hebrew, inserting it in his novel Etsel (Alongside), published shortly before his early death in 1913. For decades, most critical works on Yiddish and Hebrew literary history described Dropkin as not knowing about the theft of this poem until much later, and being unbothered by its discovery. As the author’s note below shows, this was not the case.
This piece appeared in Di naye velt, 12 April 1913, p.8. It was translated by Faith Jones with Anita Norich and David Mazower.
I will meet him with flowers
When he comes to my city
My face in tranquility
As I hand him the flowers
But should he stay at night in my house
I will creep to him like a mouse
Whether dreams cradle him
Whether they torture him
I will have him, there at his rest
Pull off his covers, kiss his chest
Thirstily drink down his blood
And feel so suddenly light and good
My sickly, my lonely love thirsts for his blood
*The late U. Gnessin translated this poem into Hebrew and published it in one of his novels without my permission. C.D.