Page 41 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 18

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33
K
a h n
— Y
ounger
P
oets
o f
I
srael
dan himself presents a complex mixture. Interested in lyricism,
he seems to have read some modern Anglo-American poets to
advantage, especially Eliot and perhaps E. E. Cummings. But
his concern with “world problems” (even though he called his
second volume
Personal Problems)
yields a biting, often bitter,
satiric note:
. . . And there, in slums under water, water maids
spurt on our knees, and in their gaze are shades
of uncapturable blue and a mixture of skies
and commands of another culture and many eyes
and endless questions: Who? Who comes to town?—
And there we, with our hands tied,
as light freezes like snow in eyes that have cried,
press and drain their lips until we drown.
(from “About the Unhappy Love of Alfred Prufrock”)
He illustrates the persistence of a social-minded, sometimes
apocalyptic, note in the midst of “modernism” :
—Then we’ll gallop in the streets strangling like horses,
and the road,
hot,
beneath us breathing—
and we’ll run
to the light
and fall, dying,
sowing seed in women as we face the sun—
and the whiteness will kneel and sing,
and we
will still play on its bloody neck
and we’ll see,
blind,
how the city—the whole city—
like a pencil-drawn line from our eyes is erased. . .
This poem about a city’s destruction (about half is translated
here) can be read as a fantasy of Israel’s bomb-threatened reality,
or of the universal terrors of our atomic age.
Generation of Transition and Experiment
The total impression produced by the emerging generation is,
as might be expected, one of transition and experiment. In the
anniversary issues of
Moznayim
(1958, 1959), a number of critical
articles were devoted to the younger poets—their heritage,12
their poetry of nature,13 their characteristic traits,14 their choice
12A. Sha’anan (1958, pp. 384-388).
13 G. Katznelson (1958, pp. 388-396).
14A. Ochmani (1958, pp. 397-400).