Page 28 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 18

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h o l o m
a h n
HE CRITICISM of poetry is notoriously, perhaps neces-
sarily, subjective; how much more so when it is concerned
with contemporary writers, and how much even more so when
the critic is a relative newcomer to the literary scene in question
as 1 am in Israel. For the partial sketch which follows, I have
tried to compensate for the gaps in my knowledge and for the
limitations of my taste by consulting library catalogues, experts
(who will remain nameless), and articles in literary periodicals
and elsewhere (to which I shall refer).
Since obviously I could not hope to do justice to so many
poets in the brief space at my disposal, I have limited my treat-
ment in the following ways: only those poets are considered who
have published at least one volume of verse, and who have
emerged (or made their major impact) since the rise of the
State of Israel; I begin by examining some reflections on politics
(especially the War of Independence) and on religion, two
major areas of experience which so many of the younger poets
share; I go on to sketch certain trends which seem to have been
emerging since 1953, though the predominant impression is one
of diverse and individualistic talents; and I conclude by dis-
cussing briefly (and representing in translation) a few poets
who have interested me especially.1
The Inspiration of the War of Independence
The dozen years we are considering seem to break, poetically
speaking, into two sub-periods: the immediate post-war period,
from 1948 to 1953, when many works written during (or in-
spired by) the War of Independence were published or collected
—though some of the poets in question first began to publish
in the early 40’s; and 1953 to 1960, a period quantitatively
rich in fresh names and trends, which already has assumed the
character of a new poetic generation.
1 1 have quoted or referred to a number of translations not mentioned
specifically by Jacob Kabakoff in his article on “Israeli Literature in English
(Jewish Book Annual,
vol. 16, 1958-59, pp. 55-67). All translations
are my own, unless otherwise indicated. In the essay, 20 poets are mentioned.
29 additional new poets are listed at the end of the article.