Dan Pagis

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Dan Pagis
Dan Pagis' poem at the Death Camp Belzec victims memorial

Dan Pagis (October 16, 1930 – July 29, 1986) was an Israeli poet, lecturer and Holocaust survivor.[1][2] He was born in Rădăuţi, Bukovina in Romania and imprisoned as a child in a concentration camp in Ukraine. He escaped in 1944 and in 1946 arrived safely in Israel where he became a schoolteacher in a kibbutz.

He earned his PhD from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem where he later taught Medieval Hebrew literature.[3] His first published book of poetry was Sheon ha-Tsel ("The Shadow Clock") in 1959. In 1970 he published a major work entitled Gilgul – which may be translated as "Revolution, cycle, transformation, metamorphosis, metempsychosis," etc. Other poems include: "Written in Pencil in the Sealed Railway-Car," "Testimony, "Europe, Late," "Autobiography," and "Draft of a Reparations Agreement." Pagis knew many languages, and translated multiple works of literature.

He died of cancer in Israel on July 29, 1986.

Pagis' most widely cited poem is :

Written in Pencil in the Sealed Railway Car

here in this carload
I am eve
with abel my son
if you see my other son
cain son of man
tell him i


Books published in Hebrew[edit]


  • The Shadow Dial (Sifriat Poalim, 1959 Shaon Ha-Hol)
  • Late Leisure (Sifriat Poalim, 1964 Sheut Meuheret)
  • Transformation (Massada/Hebrew Writers Association, 1970 Gilgul)
  • Brain (Hakibbutz Hameuchad, 1975 Moah)
  • Double Exposure (Hakibbutz Hameuchad, 1982 Milim Nirdafot)
  • Twelve Faces (Hakibbutz Hameuchad, 1984 Shneim Asar Panim)
  • Last Poems (Hakibbutz Hameuchad, 1987 Shirim Aharonim)
  • Collected Poems (Hakibbutz Hameuchad/Bialik Institute, 1991 Col Ha-Shirim)

Books for children[edit]

  • The Egg That Disguised Itself (Am Oved, 1973; 1994 Ha-Beitzah She-Hithapsah)


  • The Poems of Levi Ibn Al-Tabban (Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, 1968 [Shirei Levi Ibn Alatabban)
  • Secular Poetry and Poetic Theory: Moses Ibn-Ezra and his Contemporaries (Bialik Institute, 1970 [Shirat Ha-Hol Ve-Torat Ha-Shir Le-Moshe Eben Ezra U-Vnei Doro)
  • Change and Tradition in Secular Poetry: Spain and Italy (Keter, 1976)
  • The Scarlet Thread – Hebrew Love Poems from Spain, Italy, Turkey and the Yemen (edited by Dan Pagis) (Hakibbutz Hameuchad, 1979 Ke-Hut Ha-Shani)
  • A Secret Sealed (Magnes- Hebrew University, 1986 Al Sod Hatum)
  • Poetry Aptly Explained – Studies and Essays on Medieval Hebrew Poetry (The Magnes Press, Hebrew University, 1993 Ha-Shir Davur Al Ofanav)

Books in translation[edit]

  • Selected Poems, (English: Princeton, Quarterly Review of Literature Series, 1992; London, Menard Press, 1972; Philadelphia, Jewish Publication Society, 1981; Berkeley, University of California Press, 1996; San Francisco, North Point, 1989)
  • German: An beiden Ufern der Zeit, Tr. Anne Birkenhauer, Straelen, Straelener Manuskripte, 2003, ISBN 3-89107-050-0; Erdichteter Mensch, Tr. Tuvia Ruebner, Frankfurt am Main, Suhrkamp, Juedischer Verlag 1993, ISBN 978-3-633-54083-9
  • Spanish: (Granada, Univ. de Granada, 1994)
  • The Modern Hebrew Poem Itself (2003), ISBN 0-8143-2485-1
  • Variable Directions, Tr. Stephen Mitchell (San Francisco: Northpoint, 1989)
  • Poems, Tr. Stephen Mitchell (Oxford: Carcanet Press, 1972)

Further reading[edit]



  1. ^ The Holocaust and the war of ideas, Edward Alexander, Transaction Publishers, 1994, pp. 90 ff.
  2. ^ Holocaust Literature: An Encyclopedia of Writers and Their Work, S. Lillian Kremer, Taylor & Francis, 2003, pp. 913 ff.
  3. ^ Dan Pagis biography & bibliography (The Institute for the Translation of Hebrew Literature)

External links[edit]