Anglo-Stential Angst

I appreciate Mr. Mordechai Schiller’s weekly romp through the English language, and enjoyed the wordplay banter in recent weeks’ letters.

I’d like to share with him (and whoever else might be interested) a short, bittersweet paean (if there can be such a thing) I penned on the subject.


I love the English language,

It’s such a part of me,

Connects the world without with that within.

The tool of my trade,

With it my bills get paid (sometimes),

And fellow English speakers feel like instant kin.

To browse a dictionary,

Leaves me flushed and merry,

Delighting at each newly-tasted word.

Yet even as I write this,

I know that this delight is,

In its essence something quite absurd.

For while the language I do love,

The love of it I don’t,

Its most fluent phrases leave a hollow ring.

For should a son of Avraham,

That’s really what I am,

Find his solace in the language of the “Engs”?

Should something foreign to my soul,

Have me so much in its hold,

With my own soul-language stilted and remote?

Lashon ha-Kodesh, Hebrew, Yiddish,

Never heard when I was kid-ish,

Thrown over with tefillin from the boat.

I’m sure there’s a good reason,

For my linguistic treason,

To reach others that no other language might.

To redeem the holy sparks,

From their dungeons cold and dark,

Through words of Torah bringing them to light.

While it’s not my mother tongue,

It’s the one I learned when young,

At my kind adoptive mother(land)’s native knee.

So yes, I love the English language,

And I guess I always will,

Despite the fact it really isn’t me.

Nesanel Safran