David Vogel was a Russian-born Hebrew poet, novelist, and diarist. He was born in the town of Satanov in the Podolia region of the western Ukraine. A Yiddish speaker, he grew up in Vilna and Lvov, settling in Vienna in 1912. During World War I he was arrested as a Russian enemy alien. In 1929-1930 he spent time in Palestine, returning afterwards to live in Berlin. After fleeing to Paris in 1933, he was interned in France in 1940, this time as an Austrian enemy alien. Deported in 1944, he is presumed to have died in Auschwitz.

 

I Saw My Father Drowning

I saw my father drowning
In surging days.
His weak hand gave a last white flutter
In the distance –
And he was gone.

I kept on alone
Along the shore,
A boy still,
With small, thin legs,
And have grown as far as this.

And now I am my father,
And all those waves
Have broken over me,
And left my soul numb.

But all I held dear
Have gone into the wilderness
And I can stretch out a hand to no one.

I am happy to rest
In the black cradle of night,
Under the sky’s canopy,
Studded with silver.


-David Vogel
(Translated by A.C. Jacobs)