Page 37 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 18

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a h n
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The following stanza from “And Tha t Is Thy Praise,״ also by
Amichai, illustrates the ironic variation on a traditional prayer
(a subtitle tells us, from the High Holydays):
Perhaps, like an antique statue left without arms,
our lives too are more beautiful, without great deeds and
Untie from me my gleaming undershirt-coat-of-mail,
I have fought with all the knights, till I saw the electric
light fail,
and that is my praise.
And finally, B. Tomer’s recent “Broken Tablets” (1959) :
Righteousness does not grow out of sin.
The wind in the East today is chill.
No new voice in the silent West.
The wind will blow warm when it has passed.
The dreams, as in Skins of onion, are wrapped—
not a single Spark of them has been saved.
The truth is, our eyes are a little sore,
we’ve no hope of Heaven’s mercies more.
God has failed, and the Sacred Name.
A new Order, perhaps, may save the Flame.
The allusions here to the Cabbala (emphasized by italics in the
Hebrew) are almost untranslatable. The “skins” are the shells
symbolizing the powers of evil concealing the powers of good;
the lost “sparks” might have been fragments of God’s holy light
and what has been translated as “order” (i.e., com-
bination or relationship) refers to the practice of rearranging
the letters of words in the Bible so as to build out of them the
names of God.
Poetry for Its Own Sake
Through our examples from Amichai and Tomer we have
anticipated the developments of the last few years which have
involved, speaking very generally, a growing sense of detach-
ment, especially from political ideologies, and an increasing con-
cern with the art of poetry for its own sake. A turning point
seems to have come with the publication in 1953 of a small
In Three,
with groups of poems by M. Dor, N. Zach,
and A. Sivan. The editors claimed one common purpose, as
indicated in the following quotation from the preface:
The publication of an independent periodical for young
writers, whatever their viewpoints might b e . . . Our pages