Text & Translation



Jacob Glatstein

Translation by Hershl Hartman


While our usual practice is to publish short poems in clusters of two or three, sometimes a poem retains more of its power when read in isolation. In this spirit, In geveb is pleased to present the first in a series of stand-alone poems: Jacob Glatstein's 1946 poem "Smoke", in a rhyming translation by Hershl Hartman.

Hartman notes that, like many Yiddish poets who had escaped the khurbn by pre-war emigration, Glatstein devoted a significant part of his subsequent creativity to commemorating that horror, as well as to glorifying the resistance that is too often overlooked.

Click here to download a PDF of this text and its translation.


דורכן קרעמאַטאָריע־קוימען
קרויזט אַרויף אַ ייִד צום עתּיק־יומין.
און ווי נאָר דער רויך פֿאַרשווינדט,
קנוילן אַרויף זײַן ווײַב און קינד.

און אויבן אין די הימלישע הייכן
וויינען, בענקען הייליקע רויכן.
גאָט, דאָרט וווּ דו ביסט דאָ,
דאָרטן זײַנען מיר אַלע אויך נישטאָ.


In the rising smoke of the crematory flue
The Elder of Days greets the smoke of a Jew.
And as soon as that poof of smoke is defiled
There appear the wisps of his wife and his child.

And above in heavenly sojourn
Holy vapors sob and yearn.
God, wherever you choose to be
There, too, one cannot find such as we.

Glatstein, Jacob. “Smoke.” In geveb, November 2017: Trans. Hershl Hartman. https://ingeveb.org/texts-and-translations/smoke.
Glatstein, Jacob. “Smoke.” Translated by Hershl Hartman. In geveb (November 2017): Accessed Mar 21, 2018.


Hershl Hartman

Hershl Hartman is the Secular Jewish vegvayzer/Leader and Education Director of the Sholem Community in Los Angeles.