Page 42 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 18

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of subjects15—with rather negative results: they do not really
love or even care about nature, they are self-centered and “nihil-
istic” about traditional values, they have not yet found adequate
themes, etc. I am too new to the subject to venture a blanket
judgment, but I have come away from a period of somewhat
random reading with an impression of much excellent talent
and linguistic skill, critical alertness if not always sophistication,
willingness to experiment, and an underlying seriousness which
is learning, as it were, how to relax and play. Criticism may be
lagging behind creativity—both that of the reviewers, and the
sort of self-criticism which would lead the young poet to use
Horace’s “labor of the file” and heed the Latin poet’s advice:
“put back the manuscript in your desk and let it stand over for a
decade; the unpublished may be cancelled, but a word once
uttered can never be recalled.” The fact, however, that the pub-
lication of reasonably good poetry has become relatively easy
in Israel surely has its bright (as well as its doubtful) side for
young talent.
Three poets have especially impressed me as outstanding.16
T . Carmi combines a critical sense with a remarkable purity of
emotion. He can experiment with technique, it seems, without
losing sight of, or stifling, the lyrical impulse. Thus, there are
two simultaneous voices to be heard in the following “Black
Mood” :
Growling
“Praise God, Hallelujah!”
to the wind and cat,
my little son
stuck a fearful hand
between the slats of the chicken-coop
to gather some bits of clay,
“My treasure”
rejoiced,
“Tha t it was good!”
cracked a tooth on the clay
and before me
Job stood.
And here is another, a more typical lyric:
Always
in the beating of the winds within my hands,
I hear my blood,
I hear your voice—
their beat is one.
1^S. Avneri (1959, pp. 420-424).
16 All three are represented in the selections made by the editor of
Poetry
(July, 1958). And see “The Song of a Way in the Desert,” the
lovely “verses for a film” by Carmi
(Israel Argosy: No. 6,
pp. 94-109).