Page 192 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 11 (1952-1952)

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YEHOASH AT HIS WORK
By
E
v l i n
Y
e h o a s h
D
w o r k i n
*
Y
EHOASH was a disciplined writer who approached his work
with an objectivity and analysis rare in a poet. Yet he was
emotional, and consequently more lenient, in his attitude toward
the work of others. I cannot remember ever hearing him say,
“ this is a good piece of work,” about anything of his own. This
was not due to modesty on his part — Yehoash was fully aware
of the position he held in the world of Yiddish letters — but
simply to the exacting standards he set himself.
Had he lived longer than he did he would undoubtedly have
revised his translation of the Bible. The Pentateuch appeared in
book-form just a few months before he died. He had a set bound
with blank sheets between the pages, on which between Septem-
ber 1926 and January 1927, he noted several hundred corrections.
He laid down his pen for the last time in January 1927.
Yehoash made eight complete versions of his Pentateuch trans-
lation and about four to six of the remaining portions of the
Bible.
In his Bible work Yehoash’s self-discipline was most apparent.
Even the division of his working-day was rigidly observed. During
the last five or six years of his life his time was devoted almost
exclusively to the translation, with all too few side excursions into
creative work of his own. I have frequently heard him say, “ If
I only live to finish the Tanach, some day I plan to write such
and such a work.” Usually these were literary forms he had not
yet ventured on, a play, a novel, his autobiography.
Six days a week Yehoash followed the same routine: by ten in
the morning he was at his desk and worked through the day
until as late as midnight or one in the morning, with short,
grudgingly granted pauses for meals. Tea was brought to him at
frequent intervals throughout the day; he never had to be asked
whether he wished any. The break in the working-pattern came
on the Sabbath. This was his laboratory day, when he would
read over what he had done during the past week, frowning
sternly at himself all the while. He would read the Tanach,
sometimes out loud, to get the feel of the trope and rhythm, and
look up references and translations in various languages.
* A daughter’s tribute on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the death of
her father.
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