Page 173 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 11 (1952-1952)

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P I T L I K ----MICAH JOSEPH LEBENSOHN
167
to her as a refugee seeking shelter and asylum in her home from
the pursuing Israelites. Although her patriotism conquered, she
is still troubled by pangs of conscience and by a sense of guilt for
the murder she committed.
In “Moses on the Mountain of Abarim” Moses meditates over
all the years he had spent with Israel in the desert, the trials and
the tribulations he had endured as leader of an undisciplined
people, his rise as leader and lawgiver, his dream to lead his people
into the promised land. And now the goal is so near, yet it is so
far, for he hears God’s command: “Thou shalt not enter therein!”
He ascends Mount Nebo and satiates his eyes with the sight of
the beautiful land . . .
The night is gone; the sun arose,
But dark is yet the sky,
In silence Moses lay, his sun has s e t . . .
Upon Jerusalem he cast his eye . . .
The most accomplished piece of Lebensohn’s work is “Rabbi
Yehudah Halevi” which is considered by critics a masterpiece of
his time. As we read of Halevi’s yearning for Zion, we feel at the
same time Micah Joseph’s heart throbbing with the same love for
The land where every stone
An altar is to heaven’s God . . .
The entire poem is symbolic of our own poet’s life. I t is full of
subtle imaginative quality and is steeped in warm melancholy
and pathos.
The appearance of Lebensohn’s
Shirei Bat Ziyon
called forth
a wave of praise and admiration among readers and critics. Its
author was hailed as “Yehudah Halevi the Second” and as a “new
star” that “arose on the firmament of Hebrew poetry.”
Only one more book of poems, posthumously published, has
been bequeathed to us by our author. I t is entitled:
Kinnor Bat
Ziyon
(Harp of the Daughter of Zion), and contains a number of
original lyric poems as well as translations.
In the fall of 1850, depressed and disappointed, Lebensohn
returned from Rheinherz to Berlin. His condition deteriorated.
For several weeks he was confined to his sickbed. Besides, there
were also financial difficulties which prevented him from remaining
in Berlin. He therefore returned to his parents in Wilna.
We now approach the last chapter of our poet’s life. A little
more than a year it lasted, and what a year of torture and agonies!
His friends Judah Loeb Gordon — poet laureate of the
Haskalah