Poetry International Poetry International




(Russian Federation, 1890 - 1931)
The poet Rachel`s life has taken on mythic proportions for Israel`s reading public.

Rachel (Bluwstein) was born in northern Russia in 1890, and died in Tel Aviv in 1931 of tuberculosis, which she contracted while working in schools for refugee children during World War I in Russia. All her poetry was published under her first name only, sometimes spelled ‘Rachel’, sometimes ‘Ra’hel’ (for example, by her American-born translator Robert Friend), and sometimes ‘Raxel’ or ‘Rahel’; these differences are due to the difficulties of transliterating the Hebrew consonant ‘xet’, which does not exist in European languages, except for Maltese (ħ), and which is pronounced by most of the speakers of Modern Hebrew like the Scottish ‘ch’ as in ‘Loch’ or the Dutch ‘g’ as in ‘graag’. Rachel immigrated to Palestine in 1909, during the period of Ottoman rule, and lived for nearly four years at an agricultural girls’ school on the shores of the Kinneret. In 1913 she traveled to France to study agronomy, and spent the war years in Russia. The poet returned to Palestine in 1919, to Kibbutz Degania, but soon left, as her illness prevented her from working with children, and made physical labor an impossibility as well. She lived out her last years in loneliness in a room in Tel Aviv, and was buried at the Kinneret. Most of her poetry was published in her last years, her language simple and clear, her descriptions deep and emotional; her love poems emphasize pain, loneliness and longing, while the rest often treat the strong connection to the landscape, to biblical figures, to human fate and the puzzle of death.
© Rami Saari (Translated by Lisa Katz)
My Dead
Our Garden
To My Country
Pear Tree
“Meeting, Hardly Meeting”

Also on this site
A critic admits “I fell in love with Rachel”
Rachel’s prose: “On the Shores of the Kinneret”
Robert Friend on translating Rachel
PIW editor Saari “Longing for the country of the heart”
On the Translator Robert Friend (1913-1998)

In Hebrew
Shirey Raxel (Rachel's Poems), Sridot, 1997
Ha-tishma‛ qoli (Will You Hear My Voice), Bar, 1986
Be-gani neta‛tikha (I Planted You In My Garden), Tammuz, 1985
Shirim, Mikhtavim, Reshimot (Poems, Letters, Writings), Zmora-Bittan, 1985
Ka-xakot Raxel (As Rachel Waited), Tammuz, 1982
Shirat Raxel (Rachel's Poetry), Davar, 1935
Nevo (Nevo), Davar, 1932
Mi-neged (Across From), Davar, 1930
Safiax (Aftergrowth), Davar, 1927

Other Languages
Selected Poems
Dutch – Amsterdam, Amphora, 2018.
English – London, Menard, 1995 (Tr. Robert Friend)
German – Berlin, He-Chalutz, 1936; Tel Aviv, Davar, 1970
Spanish – Barcelona, Riopiedras, 1985
Yiddish – Winnipeg, WIZO U.S.A and Canada, 1932, Buenos Aires, Kium Farlag, 1957
Individual poems by Rachel have been published in Afrikaans, Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, English, French, Frisian, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Romanian, Serbo-Croatian, Slovak, Spanish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese, Welsh and Yiddish.

In Catalan
Rachel's biography

In English
Insitute for the Translation of Hebrew Literature
a detailed biography of Rachel and a list of her published books
- a biographical page dedicated to Rachel
Jewish Virtual Library
one more page with a short biography
Nizza Thobi
a German singer on Rachel's biography and on her poetry
Old Poetry
a biographical note and links to two of Rachel's poem in English translation
All Refer
a short reference to Rachel
Web Del Sol
- a poem translated into English by Jeff Friedman and Nathan Schwartz
Hebrew Union College
a preview of a new book by Wendy I. Zierler about the emergence of Modern Hebrew women's writing, And Rachel Stole the Idols

In French
The Jewish Agency
a biographical page dedicated to Rachel with two of her poems translated into French
Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
a page dedicated to Israeli literature with a paragraph concerning Rachel and her poetry
a page dedicated to several Israeli women poets and writers, among them Rachel

In German
The Jewish Agency
a page about Rachel's biography with some lines of her poems Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
a page dedicated to Israeli literature with a paragraph concerning Rachel and her poetry

In Hebrew
Ben Yehuda
all Rachel's poems as well as other texts written by her on the Hebrew-language Gutenberg site
Ben Yehuda
- Rachel's translations into Hebrew (mainly from Russian and French)
The Jewish Agency
a biography of Rachel
Parashat ha-shavua la-yeled
- a short biographical note

In Italian
Ben Yehuda
13 of Rachel's poems translated into Italian by Daniel Shalev

In Polish
- a page dedicated to Israeli literature with a paragraph concerning Rachel and her poetry

In Portuguese
Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
a page dedicated to Israeli literature with a paragraph concerning Rachel and her poetry

In Spanish
a short biography
- Eliahu Toker's translation of one of Rachel´s poems into Spanish
Eliahu Toker's translation of another of Rachel´s poems into Spanish
Gemeente Rotterdam
Nederlands Letterenfonds
Stichting Van Beuningen Peterich-fonds
Ludo Pieters Gastschrijver Fonds
Hendrik Muller fonds
Lira fonds
J.E. Jurriaanse
Literature Translation Institute of Korea
LantarenVenster – Verhalenhuis Belvédère