White Serpent, by Nelly SachsTranslated by Joshua Weiner

Sign in to access Harper’s Magazine

Need to create a login? Want to change your email address or password? Forgot your password?

  1. Sign in to Customer Care using your account number or postal address.
  2. Select Email/Password Information.
  3. Enter your new information and click on Save My Changes.

Locked out of your account? Get help here.

Subscribers can find additional help here.

Not a subscriber? Subscribe today!

To change your password click here.

Get Access to Print and Digital for $23.99.
Subscribe for Full Access
Get Access to Print and Digital for $23.99.

From Flight and Metamorphosis, a poetry collection, which will be published in March by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Sachs (1891–1970) was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1966. Translated from the German.

White serpent
polar circle
wings in granite
pink sorrow in the iceblock
forbidden zones around the mystery
heartpounding miles from distance
wind chains hanging on homesickness
flaming shell of fury—

And the snail
with the ticking pack of God-time.

More from