Page 163 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 11 (1952-1952)

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JACOB FICHMAN
(On the Occasion of his 70th Birthday)
By
E
i s i g
S
i l b e r s c h l a g
J
ACOB FICHMAN is the most careful craftsman in modern
Hebrew poetry. Bialik surpassed him in the vigor of his re-
actions to Jewish life in the remote past and the immediate
present, Tschernichowsky outdid him in the catholicity of his
interests. But no other Hebrew poet in the last century chose
words with finer taste and sensitivity.
In his lyrics Fichman reveals himself as the itinerant landscape
painter who feels at home wherever a garden blooms under a
tranquil sky and a river flows in graceful curves. The very titles
are indicative of the content: “A Summer Night,” “Blue Flowers,”
“Night Rain,” “Evening Wind,” “Hoarfrost,” “Vapor,” “The
Song of the White Bud.” What makes Fichman more receptive
to the charm of the non-human world than to the challenge of
mankind will remain a secret unless, like
JE,
he chooses one
day to write as revelatory a book as
Song and its Fountains.
The quieter aspects of nature are his proper domain. But
he manages to weave personal moods into the changing spirit of
the seasons. His feelings are often tinged with the haunting
languor and sadness which are also characteristic of Heine and
Verlaine. Yet it is difficult to quote a poem or a verse by Fichman
which owes its phrasing, imagery or rhythm to alien sources.
Two world wars have not changed the even tenor of his poetry.
But the impact of Palestine has shaken the still surface of his
personality. No modern Hebrew poet has shown a greater under-
standing for the landscape of Judah than Fichman. The mountains
and deserts of southern Palestine live in his poems with a life
which is more ancient than human history and more abundant in
Jewish memories than any other region in the world.
Here God’s own sadness, fresh as grass intact,
Waters each rock, each mountain tract.
The cities manage to retain their arrested antiquity in his
sonnets which are among the most perfect in the Hebrew language:
Jaffa a t noon when the intense heat sheds a blissful lassitude upon
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