Page 108 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 20

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Utilizing ano ther national motif, the poet sang of the glory of
Israel. He created poetic images in which the Jewish ship, sym-
bolic of the Jewish people, is tossed on the stormy seas of the
world. T hu s he consoled Jews:
Many, many ships go down
And never reach the shore,
Proud and !)rave ou r ship sails on
Th rough dangers by the score.
Th is was soon followed by his “Exile-March,” the best poem in
the national cycle:
W ith the wanderer’s staff in hand,
W ithou t a home, w ithout a land,
No friend, no helper on the way,
No tomorrow and no today.
Nowhere allowed to pitch ou r tent
Never a day where a night is spent.
Always woe and woe and woe.
Always go and go and go.
Un til every ounce of strength has gone.
(Trans. Joseph Leftwich)
Rosenfeld wrote a number of poems on the Jewish holidays,
Passover, Shavuoth and Hannukah; also on motifs from the
prophets and tales from the Talmud . In his poem about the little
H annukah candles he sings with profound heart-feeling:
Little lights, you sing to us,
And what talcs you !)ring to us
W ith your tongues of gold.
Tales of strife and slavery,
Tales of skill and bravery
Miracles of old.
(Trans. Aaron Kramer) *
T hu s we see tha t Rosenfeld had two basic themes —the social
and the national. I t is a mistake to think of Rosenfeld, as Pro-
lessor Leo Wiener thought of him, as only a singer of the sweat-
shop. His poetic images portrayed all aspects of life on the old
East Side, bu t lie wrote national poetry at the same time.
We have already mentioned the power and pathos of Rosen-
fold’s social and national poems, bu t his qu iet lyric poems are
not of less value. (This is also true of the great poet Hayyim
•From
Teardrop Millionaire and O ther Poems of Morris Rosenfeld,
sclcctcd
and translated by Aaron Kramer (New York, 1955).