The works in this site were translated from the Hebrew by Moshe Ganan, the owner of this site.

This page is dedicated to the memory of the Hebrew poet Pinchas Sadeh.

Pinchas Sadeh (1929-1994) the famous Poet of Israel, started out as a painter, (at least that is what he wanted to be as a young man). At 17 he wished to join Bezalel, the Jerusalem School of Arts. Ardon, the director of the school was ready to accept him as his pupil, but Sadeh had not a penny for his soul. Ardon was ready to accept him as a non-paying student but had to explain to Sadeh that at any rate students have to buy the canvas, the paint, all of which cost, of course, money, which Sadeh didn't have; so Sadeh had to decide to choose literature which one can do with a piece of paper and a pen.
At any rate, hence Sadeh's predilection for painters and pictures in his poetry.

The Vision of Francesco Goya

Do not turn your head away,
There against us on the hill's crest
The castle of our dreams, my dearest,
Stands, all wrapped in misty grey.

We hover, dearest love, on heights
Since times beyond human memory
Betwixt this grievous earth's misery
and the yellow evening-sky.

Come please, do embrace me, closer.
Would we could just reach the crest,
We'd find there ease and rest
to be redeemed, little sister.

But the hunters, my only sweetheart
on the mountain there below
-O, ready to kill is their arrow-
level their weapons to my heart.

This famous painting by Goya may have been the one that inspired Sadeh to write his poem.

That poem stands as a kind of motto at the head of an essay Sadeh published in MOLAD, January - February 1970, (Volume 3, No 223) about the painters Goya, Nolde and Cezanne.

Emil Nolde, or:I have dreamt that the Earth is my Beloved.

Sometimes (thus Emil Nolde wrote in his autobiography in the chapter dealing with the days of his youth) I would wander about alone in the meadows, in the wake of my thoughts and vague sensations. I would lie among the high ears of corn, invisible, my back towards the earth, my eyes closed, with widespread arms, thinking, so did lie your Redeemer, after he had been taken down by the women and men from the cross... and verily I dreamed that the whole earth, the great, oval, wonderful earth is my sweetheart".
Only these words, words of piety and devotion suit the situation of mankind in the cosmos, a situation which in itself is religious, those words and not the vanities of the times, not the noise of the marketplaces, not the desperate foolishness of critics and others like them justify the existence of the artist, his way, his struggle, his achievements and finally his death, because in them come to full expression his cosmic sensibility, his insight that the earth to be his grave is his sweetheart, that the clouds in the sky are his comerades, ("I looked up at the heavens, at the clouds in the sky, vast and unfathomable, and I felt they are my friends" - writes Nolde) that his fate and destiny are with the flux of the water, with the ever changing flowers, with the boulders and the stones. And this cosmic sensation is also the bridge of the genuine artist not only over space but also over time, since he perceives himself at that moment near and alike to the man whom he calls his "Redeemer", the man who lived nineteen hundred years ago before him in a strange and faraway land in Asia. Emil Nolde was born in 1867 to a family of peasants. [Sadeh goes on and describes Nolde's life and work] [In the second part of his article Sadeh writes about another great painter, Cezanne].

Paul Cezanne, or: what does it mean to be a saint?

Paul Cezanne was a saint. What does the mean? A few days ago a letter reached me from a youth in Haifa, and among other things it says: in the Book of Discussions Through the Night the question is put to you whether you feel to have done well having finished a genuine piece of work. And that is your answer: "Yes, but after a while the feeling disappears, since here is no redemption in action". Having read your answer I shuddered, and wanted to cry havoc - Son of Man! If all our poems and suffering and pain, if our will and love and pity and thoughts, if all these, all these have no effect whatsoever, and make no difference either to us or before God, what is left then, and what is the purpose to do certain things and to prefer a certain way of life to another one"?
My answer to his question is that although it is true that it is not worthwhile "to do certain things", yet their not being worthwhile is the justification to do them. Rabbi Dov Be'er of Mezeritsh heard once a voice announcing to him that he lost his inheritance to the world to come. And the Rabbi answered the voice: "Since my share is lost, and there will be no payment for my toil, I can hence work for God - at long last - not for wages".

All my life I have felt, and the laws of ethics in me have also told me so, that the good works of the spirit, and the works of evil are those whose purpose is the material and the utilitarian, and while we do not know concerning the former how God judges them, yet the ultimate judgment lies nevertheless in his hands. In "A la Recherche du Temps Perdue" Proust says (I quote from memory), that presumably the source of our highest values is not this but some other world, the one perhaps from which we ourselves originate, and whence we brought with us here the dim memory of the values reigning there, since, after all, in this valley of doom, dominated by materialism and stupidity, deception and flattery, what will justify and bring about the existence of the spiritual, the sublime, the genuine and the worthwhile. In these words of Proust I find the answer, in addition to the former answers and as a complement to them, to the question about the meaning of sainthood, which is, as a matter of fact, the question about the meaning of our existence in general. And the answer is, that the saint is he who is most faithful to these values that have no roots neither fruit in this our world, in the way of fulfillment of the Commandments, that has no earthly reward, or, in the words of Jesus, who said that his kingdom "is not in this world".

Paul Cezanne gave his whole life to the arts. Sometimes he worked on a painting for months, even for years. In his painting "Les Grandes Baigneuses" he invested eight years of work, and drawings he made show that this picture occupied his mind for thirty years. His friends saw him sitting before his easel hours on end contemplating and reflecting and trying to understand the meaning of things. Once a year he offered a work to the yearly exhibition, only to be again and again rejected. He was considered a miserable failure, squandering his life on queer, eccentric, grotesque and absurdly ludicrous experiments. He was put on the cross for sixty-seven years of his life, yet his hands remained free to paint. And so, in an irate, demure spirit, far away from the noise of the markets and the buzz of their lies, he went on with his work year after year.
He was not accepted. And that means that those who did not understand him could not comprehend even that they did not understand him. Such is the nature of miscomprehension.

Another picture Sadeh was inspired by in writing the following poem - but also his book based on the story of Abimelech in the Bible - was Albrecht Duerer's Apocalypsis.

The Angel

Death rides a horse in the skies.
With ease and splendor it rides in the azure sky, in silence.
Death rides a horse in the skies and its face is a maiden's.
Her eyes are of amber, her feet are white like the lilies.
She is girt by her sword, a sword wrought of the Sun, a sword
For the four quarters of the earth.
A sword for Damascus, for Rabbath Ammon, for Jerusalem,
A sword for the artless and the wise, the borrower and the lender, the lover,
For the one who has not as yet slept with a woman.
Death rides a horse in the skies.
On earth sits the poet and writes her face on the water.
In the woods the apes laugh, flowers bloom as the tongues of fire.
The grass grow, dogs bark, empires fall, prophets
Dream of gods, women are foresaken and beloved.
And many buy and sell their houses,
And one may think they live, but they are dead.
This world will have no resurrection.
Death rides his horse in the azure skies, in slience.
Its face is a maiden's, her feet are white as lilies.
Her eyes are the hue of amber, and she smiles.
Before her feet the Dragon lies, the Plague, the blood and the cup of ire.
Before her feet the Mourning and the Fear and endless abysses.
But her feet are white as the lily and her face is of a virgin's.
Above the woods, the flowers, the grass, above the infinite, vast sea of life,
Above the brooks of Damascus and Amman, above the hills of Neapolis and Jerusalem
Death rides his horse in the skies.

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