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Lag Ba'omer
Literature and Poetry
Around the Bonfire
Gathering Wood 
Lag Ba’Omer
What is there in the fire

Natan Alterman

Around the Bonfire

Written to commemorate seven years of the Palmach 5708


Their nation had no mother 
She did not know when they were leaving 
It was a deep, breathing night 
As always in Nissan, the moon. 
And there was a congregation of boys with no name 
Bare elbows and knees 

They listened attentively and silently 
Or engaged in an argument. 
Before them I stepped on a foot of fire 
A bonfire circled in the wind 
No more but in writing the stubborn nation, 
That night a plaque was engraved on me 

The simple burden as dust 
They carried a blind eye back 
He did not blow the shofar before them 
Did not stroke their heads on a winter night 
No, two sleeves tied around the neck 
Only the sweater was hugging their necks 

Stiff shoes and school bags 
A feast of olives and dates
And wrinkled aluminum cups 
And evilness and sacrifice is unthinkable 
What will we add to this? …the little things
Legends are created. This is the material 

What shall we sing about them? What shall we sing? 
They do it better than we do 
They write a song for themselves 
And even books have been given 
This is the nature of the Palmach he does not leave 
Any work that “is not ours”…. 

But that's how you should say 
Boys are known to be unknown 
Between the great holidays of the generation 
There is no beauty from your modest celebration 
In front of you the nation is on the edge of freedom 
She bowed and cried and understood

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