Page 224 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 24

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“Youth is seduced by spring, age is depressed by autumn. Wise
Kadia was neither seduced by spring nor depressed by autumn.
She is saturated with an Ecclesiastes-like attitude to life and to
herself. Her cool yet profound lyricism is restrained and inhib­
ited, consequently impressive. Her holocaust poems also are
unique. She pleads with God to choose another people because
‘we are tired of dying’ and ‘we no longer have enough blood
to be sacrificed.’
“In her most recent volume the longest poem is ‘The Stone­
cutter of Rishon Le Zion,’ describing a group of Bilu who came
to Palestine in the 1880’s to reconstruct the land and themselves.
It is a rare poem in which light and song are hammered out of
stone. Devoid of any prosaic propaganda, it is the exaltation of
construction and reconstruction of man and country. The poem
emerged so well because the poetess had long seen herself as a
‘Kibutznik of God.’
“In the other poems of this volume the mood is more peaceful
than in her earlier poems. There is a wise surrender to destiny
and a quiet blessing for a difficult way of life. Her life in the
future may be peaceful or it may be full of struggle, but let it
be long. The years have continually crystallized and deepened
her poetry.”
Simon Halkin
Dr. Robert Alter, professor of English at Columbia University,
made the following statement on behalf of the judges, in pre­
senting the Harry and Florence Kovner Memorial Award for
Hebrew Poetry to Dr. Simon Halkin:
“I once asked a friend, who happens to be a very sophisticated
poetry-reader, what he thought of a Hebrew poem just published
in one of the periodicals by a highly intellectual young American
writer. ‘Well,’ my friend said, ‘I suppose it’s interesting in a way,
but I can’t say I like it much, because I have a prejudice I ’ve
never been able to get rid of that poetry should be made of
beautiful words.’
“Now, this is obviously not a fashionable thing to say about
poetry, nor is it a fashionable way to write poetry any more, but
it has, I think, much general validity and is particularly relevant
to poems written in Hebrew, a language so extraordinarily rich
in age-old literary associations, in which even isolated words,
because of their history—occasionally, because of their mere
structural distinctiveness—can have a palpable aesthetic weight.
For the past decade and more, the younger Israeli poets have
been going against this strikingly traditional grain of the Hebrew
language; partly in emulation of modern American poets, they