Page 123 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 23

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a n d
— A
v r a h am
magical power, a notion not so eccentric when we realize that
several generations of Hebraists in Europe, in Palestine, and in
America actually attributed to Hebrew many of the qualities of
the religious faith they had abandoned.
In more ways than one, much of Regelson’s poetry is an attempt
to fill in the void created by the intellectual’s loss of faith in
the modern period. In
Kayin VaHevel,
Shir HaTikkun
Song of Redemption), and in several of the shorter poems, we
find a deliberate effort to construct a poetic mythology to give
substance to an imaginative world robbed of its metaphors.
Intuitively, Regelson confronts one of the central artistic prob-
lems facing the Hebrew poet: the language he uses is the symbolic
representation of a long religious tradition, of a world of inter-
connected religious metaphors, hence what modern criticism
calls a “mythology/״ But how can a man write in this language
if he does not accept the religious premises of this “mythology”?
For the contemporary Israeli writer this is no longer a problem;
the language he uses is the language of his everyday discourse,
the language in which his society communicates and expresses
itself. By no means a pious Jew, Regelson was impelled to con-
struct a mythic world based primarily on the first few chapters
of the book of Genesis, the world before the Deluge. He peoples
this world with archetypal, dangerously allegorical figures and
involves them in primal dramatic situations.
To an imagination which cannot accept the world of norma-
tive Judaism (the world of Torah), the ethos before the revela-
tion and subsequent institutionalization of Torah, i.e. before
Sinai or the conquest of Canaan, is irresistibly attractive. Other
modern Hebrew writers have been attracted to this early, non-
normative era: Frishman in his desert stories, Tchernichovski in
his poems to Canaanite gods or “the false prophets,” even Bialik
Mete Midbar.
No other Hebrew poet, however, has attempted
to return to the very bedrock of the human imagination, before
the encrustations of centuries of experience and urban sophisti-
cation. It would almost seem that these poems were written for
a Jungian analyst. Regelson succeeds most admirably in recreat-
ing the sense of awe primitive man must have felt in the presence
of an overwhelming, mysterious nature. It is this primeval nature
together with the sense of awe it inspires that Regelson offers to
fili the void of modern life and, as such, is a type of romanticism.
Signs of Romant icism
Regelson is indeed a romantic. Aside from his affinity to the
English romantic poets, one can also detect in
Kayin VaHevel
some Schopenhauer, some Hegel, some Bergson, and some
Buddha—often a sign of romanticism among Western European