Page 78 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 16

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Modern Israel
(N.Y., Abelard-Schuman, 1956). Harry H. Fein
has included contemporary Israeli poets in his
Gems of Hebrew
Verse
(Boston, Bruce Humphries, 1949), as well as in his
Chapters
in Modern Hebrew Li terature
(N.Y., Hadassah, 1947), issued in
lithographed form as a study course. A few competent render-
ings of popular Israeli poems by Shoshana Grayer are to be
found in
Israel Independence Day
(N.Y., Youth and Chalutziut
Department, 1952), a selection of program material.
The poetess Rachel, who died in 1931, has long become the
modern symbol of longing for Zion and many of her poems
have become folksongs. In addition to her poems in anthologies,
a fine selection of her writings is included in
The Plough Woman
(N.Y., Nicholas L. Brown, 1932), in the excellent translation by
Maurice Samuel. Three of her poems appear also in
A Treasury
of Comfort
(N.Y., Crown, 1954), translated by Sidney Greenberg,
editor.
Bi-Lingual Series
Most of the efforts described above are fragmentary; they do
not begin to do justice to the full scope of the creativity of our
authentic Israeli poets. Mindful of this, we welcome the first
two in a new series of bi-lingual volumes published last year
in Jerusalem by the Youth and Hechalutz Department of the
Zionist Organization. These volumes, translated by the veteran
I. M. Lask, are
Idyl ls
by David Shimoni and
Poems
by Avraham
Ben Yitzhak (Sonne). The former is the more ambitious project.
It brings in faithful translation three works of Shimoni which
voice the strivings and aspirations of the halutzim and describe
caressingly the landscape of Israel. A foremost representative
of the second aliya, Shimoni caught its spirit admirably in his
poem
In the Hedera Forest,
which is devoted to the woodcutters
who labored there. Another work,
A Memorial ,
dating from the
third aliya, recounts the tragic tale of Katriel who reduced the
essence of the Eretz-Israel Torah to three rules: “First, holding
and growing on; second, contentment with little; third, keeping
on, keeping on.” The final piece,
Dewdxops of the Nigh t ,
has as
its background the unsettled days of 1936, when the halutz was
called upon to play a new role, that of watchman. In a sense,
this idyll is a summary which surveys the entire pioneering effort
beginning with the early days of the second aliya. It mingles
memories of the past with steadfast hope in the sabra generation
of the future.
Avraham Ben Yitzhak’s
Poems
represent a more modest effort;
in his lifetime only a dozen of his poetic pieces saw publication.
In essence a modernist who wrote in a symbolic style bearing
a strong European influence, he served as the model for many a
representative of the younger guard. Both volumes in the bi-
lingual series include literary appreciations—the one on Shimoni