Posts tagged cats.


National Poetry Month
On a Poem by Leyb Kvitko
by J.D. Arden, M.L.I.S. candidate, Reference Services Research Intern, Center for Jewish History

Inscrutable Cat
by Leyb Kvitko (c.1890-1952), 
translated from Yiddish by A. Mandelbaum & H. Rabinowitz

This poem is taken from The Penguin Book of Modern Yiddish Verse, published in 1987, and is one of many such books available in the Lillian Goldman Reading Room at the Center for Jewish History. 

Inscrutable cat!

I am as still, as still as you,
Although you tread with shadow-steps - 
The peace of distant worlds within your gaze
So softly in the shadows of my rage…

I am as still, as still as you…
Along my meager island shore - 
The island of my memory - where ruins flicker faintly through
Awareness with its waves, its fog,
On that pathetic island
At times there creeps an ancient frog.
Lazily he looks about, lazily he croaks - 
At all that was, the old, the shriveled heretofore.
Then lazily he turns around; he croaks another croak - 
At the insane, the stolen here and now.
In me the present and the past are soon to speak no more.
Only the croaking will be etched into my island shore.
I start to sink into a shapeless torpor
And - 
I am as still, as still as you…

more on Leib Kvitko

& Dos Ketsele, Kvitko’s book The Kitten, specifically


Marc Chagall - Man with a Cat and Woman with a Child, 1914



Yiddish children’s book (The Kitten by Leib Kvitko), Odessa, 1935. From the Center for Jewish History, who offer this description:

A little boy and his kitten are best friends and play together day and night. But instead of catching mice at home, the kitten plays and dances with them. When the boy’s mother finds this out, she throws the kitten out of the house. The kitten returns when the boy’s mother is away. The little boy rejoices, and his mother only smiles when she comes back and sees them together again.

Yiddish: Dos ketsele

To read the entire book, click here.

(via gotochelm)