One of the greatest Yiddish poets of the 20th century, Avraham Sutzkever wrote the poem quoted below in 1983 while living in Israel. Its images perhaps reflect the six years he spent in Siberia, where he had fled with his family from the Pale of Settlement during World War I. The poem, in a new translation by Maia Evrona, begins thus:
Am I seeing, from a speeding train, young trees covered in snow
for the first time, for the last, or are crowned white nurses twisting,
turning and gliding by, charmingly disturbing,
and in the balance of their gazes: life and death, life and death?
This long corridor is shorter than a moment, perhaps,
I may still manage to comfort my companion, perhaps,
a nurse shows the way: a door at this very corner,
the white nurse freely provides a faint glimmer.