Page 109 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 20

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ia l o st o t z k y
— M
orr is
o s e n f e l d
Nachman Bialik who wrote poems of “Pain and Anger” and also
beautiful folk-like songs, and rarely poetic “Winter-Songs.”)
T h e lyricism and sadness which characterized Rosenfeld’s
poetic talen t po in t up the contrast between his poems of anger
and protest and a sentimental lyric poem like “My L ittle Son.”
Th is poem describes the anguish of the sweatshop worker who
never sees his little son when he is awake, since he leaves for
work before the child gets up and re turns after he is asleep.
Here are lines which achieved great popularity among the Jew-
ish workers:
I have a son, a little son
A youngster mighty fine,
And when I look at him I feel
T h a t all the world is mine.
But seldom do I see him when
H e ’s wide awake and bright.
I always find him sound asleep;
I see him late at night.
T h e time-clock drags me off at dawn,
At n igh t it lets me go.
I hardly know my flesh and blood;
His eyes I hardly know . . .
Rosenfeld movingly describes the father re tu rn ing home and
being told by his wife how much the child wants to be with him.
He bends over the child’s bed:
I stand beside the little bed,
And watch my sleeping son,
When hush, a dream bestirs his mouth,
“Where has my daddy gone?”
T h e poem ends with an anguished stanza which reveals the
death motif of so many of his poems:
I watch him, wounded and depressed
By thoughts I cannot bear:
“One morning, when you wake —my child,
You’ll find tha t I ’m no t here.”
(Trans. Aaron Kramer)
One can scarcely imagine how popu lar this poem was in those
days. Every worker could identify with the unhappy father. A
melody was composed for the stanzas; it was sung in the shop,
on the picket line, on the stairs of all the tenements on Pitt,
Henry and Stanton Streets.