Page 110 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 20

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Rosenfeld used the same approach in his trea tmen t of the love
motif. T h e working girl was no t jus t an economically enslaved
woman; she was a human being with her own emotions and long-
ings, with the righ t to live like everyone else. He pictures the
machines and their ceaseless pound ing in the sweatshop; he
describes the individuals who slave over them w ith pound ing
hearts. In this genre Rosenfeld surpasses his contemporaries,
Morris Winchevsky, David Edelstadt, Joseph Bovshover and
others.
Here we have the famous poem “Ruhe Plats,” which is Rosen-
feld’s interpre tation of the working g irl’s song of love:
My Camping Ground
Don’t seek me where the myrtles bloom!
Not there, my love, can I be found.
In every shop where lives are tombed,
There I make my camping ground.
Don’t seek me among warbling birds!
Not there, my love, can I be found.
I ’m chained wherever chains are heard.
There I make my camping ground.
Don’t seek me where the fountains splash!
Not there, my love, can I be found.
Where tears are shed, where teeth are gnashed,
There I make my camping ground.
Come find me, if you love me true—
For I am waiting to be found.
Oh, make my sad heart sing anew,
Make warm, make sweet, my camping ground.
(Trans. Aaron Kramer)
Th is poem is a melodic expression of the longing of the hum an
heart. T he poet saw more than the worker; he saw the hum an
being in the worker. Th is was a conspicuous achievement in
those days of noisy May-day parades and heroic strikes. Rosenfeld
went counter to the trend of the impersonal poetry of his era.
He introduced the personal, the vibran t human element. His
poetry drew nearer to the worker and brought the worker closer
to poetry. In strengthening this relationship, he paved the way
for the growth of American-Yiddish verse.
Occasionally, Rosenfeld’s rappo rt with the masses for whom
he wrote reduced the literary quality of his poems. Among beau-
tifully written verses we sometimes meet some very prim itive
lines. At times Rosenfeld thought his poetry was too literary,
too high-brow for the un tu to red masses; therefore, he lowered