Page 79 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 16

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a b a k o f f
— I
srael i
ngl i sh
from the pen of Joseph Klausner, and that on Avraham Ben
Yitzhak by Benzion Benshalom.
Other Contemporary Poets
Perhaps the strongest voice in contemporary Israeli poetry is
that of Uri Zvi Greenberg, who most directly continues the line
of prophetic exhortation so strongly characteristic of the verse of
Bialik. It is all the more deplorable, therefore, that so little
of Greenberg is available. His poem
(N.Y., Blackstone
Publishers, 1939), translated by Charles A. Cowen, dates from
the period following World War I. In verse tinged with Mes-
sianic overtones, Greenberg sang of both the earthly and the
spiritual Jerusalem that was being built by a pioneering genera-
tion. His glowing vision of Jerusalem the Eternal is mirrored
in his poem
Ta le of an Ancient Jerusalemite
, translated by
Sholom J. Kahn in
Israel Argosy,
Autumn 1952.
A modest effort to introduce the poetry of S. Shalom, on the
occasion of his cultural mission to this country in 1950, was
made by Gabriel Preil and Jacob Kabakoff in
S. Shalom the
Poet and His Work
(N.Y., Histadruth Ivrith and Jewish Educa-
tion Committee, 1950). Even the small selection of poems
presented here in the translations of Eisig Silberschlag, Gabriel
Preil and others, suffices to reveal Shalom as a writer who
absorbed the spirit of the Bialik era and also epitomized the
new life and struggles of Israel.
An insight into the creativity of three outstanding contem-
porary Hebrew poets who constitute a “new school” of Israeli
writing, was offered by Dov Vardi in his
New Hebrew Poetry
(Tel Aviv, Wizo, 1947). Foremost among these poets is Avraham
Shlonsky, whom the author characterizes as “a complete child
of the twentieth century.” A modern poet in the full sense
of the world, Shlonsky has brought many innovations to Israeli
letters and has profoundly influenced the younger writers. The
other two poets represented in the volume are Leah Goldberg
and Nathan Alterman. They followed Shlonsky by more than
a decade, and have continued in the path he blazed. Vardi has
written introductory essays on each of the poets and has appended
translations of several samplings of their poetry. A tangy taste
of the writing of the popular poet Nathan Alterman, who last
year was awarded the Bialik Prize for poetry, can be enjoyed in
selections from his
Joy of the Poor,
translated by Sholom J.
Kahn in
Israel Argosy
5 (1957).
It is clear from this rapid survey of Israeli poetry in translation
that a considerable quantity has been made available in recent
years. The time is patently ripe for an anthology of Israeli
poetry in English translation which should contain representa-
tive selections from the poets of both the old and new guards.
Moreover, we need special volumes devoted to Uri Zvi Greenberg,